Air New Zealand is the launch customer for the stretched variant of the Dreamliner, with 10, powered by Rolls-Royce’s Trent 1000, on order. The first aircraft, ZK-NZE, was contractually delivered to the airline in late June, with the milestone marked by the event at Paine Field’s Future of Flight Museum (adjacent to Boeing’s Everett widebody production facilities) ahead of the aircraft departing on its delivery flight to Auckland on Thursday.
“This delivery is hugely exciting for our airline. We truly believe this aircraft will be a game-changer for our business,” Air New Zealand chief financial officer Rob McDonald said during the delivery ceremony.
“I have to say this plane was built for us. It symbolises a lot of things for us, at the time [of the original order in 2004] it represented what we viewed ourselves as and how we thought out future network would evolve, and that’s as a Pacific Rim airline… The features and economics that first drew us to this aircraft are even more attractive and valid to us today than they were 10 years ago.”
ZK-NZE is expected to arrive in Auckland on late Friday afternoon. The airline is then due to place the aircraft into service between Auckland and Perth from mid-October and to Shanghai and Tokyo by the end of the year. Air New Zealand’s 10 787-9s on order (plus eight options) will allow it to replace its current 767-300ER fleet.
“The Dreamliners in our launch configuration will be 20 per cent more fuel efficient per seat than the 767s they will replace, as well as being able to carry 10 more tonnes of cargo on our long-haul flights,” said McDonald.
Air New Zealand is configuring its 787-9s with 302 seats (including 18 Business Premier and 21 premium economy seats).
To date, 26 customers have ordered 409 787-9s, accounting for 40 per cent of all 787 orders.