After almost 32 years in service, Air New Zealand will operate the Boeing 767 fleet for the last time on Friday.
The final flight for the sole remaining 767-300ER in the fleet ZK-NCI is scheduled to depart Sydney as NZ108 at 1855 and touch down in Auckland 2359 local time.
The Star Alliance member has been progressively replacing its 767s with next generation Boeing 787-9s, which feature the airline’s latest cabin products and offer lower operating costs and improved fuel efficiency while carrying more passengers.
Further, it gives the New Zealand flag carrier a simplified fleet structure with three jet aircraft types – narrowbody Airbus A320s and widebody 787-9s and 777-200ER/300ERs. Air New Zealand farewelled the 747 in September 2014.
“The Boeing 767 aircraft has been a stalwart at Air New Zealand for more than 30 years now but moving to operate the modern 787-9 Dreamliners on our long-haul routes will allow us to be more efficient and have a consistent wide-body fleet which will deliver benefits to both the business and customers,” Air New Zealand chief operations, integrity and standards officer Captain David Morgan said in a statement on Friday.
Morgan said the transition from the 767-300ER to 787-9 would result in a three per cent increase in capacity on Air New Zealand’s trans-Tasman and Pacific Island network.
Air New Zealand’s 787-9s are configured with 302 seats across 18 in business, 21 in premium economy and 263 in economy. The airline will also have three 787-9s in a more premium heavy configuration featuring 27 business, 33 premium economy and 215 economy seats for a total of 275.
By contrast, the 767-300ERs had 230 seats (24 in business and 206 in economy).
The airline has nine 787-9s in its fleet, with a further four due for delivery between now and the end of 2018.
While ZK-NCI will be withdrawn from the Air New Zealand fleet after Friday’s flight, it will continue to fly having been sold to a new operator and slated for conversion to a freighter.
Air New Zealand took delivery of its first 767 in September 1985 and has flown both the -200 and -300 variant of the type. The final active 767-300ER ZK-NCI joined the fleet in November 1994, meaning it has had a near 23 years with the New Zealand flag carrier.
The airline said its 767s have carried such luminaries as New Zealand’s America’s Cup winners, Pope John Paul II and the Rolling Stones over the years.
Qantas farewelled the 767 in December 2014 after a 29-year career operating 927,000 flights that carried nearly 168 million passengers. The last flight was on December 27.
Air New Zealand has published a video of its 767 senior fleet manager Captain Greg Liddy speaking about the aircraft’s withdrawal.