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Thursday 9 November 2023

Air New Zealand flights grounded by engine issues

Hobart International Airport will soon be plain old Hobart domestic airport after Air New Zealand announced it will be suspending services to the Tasmanian capital next year.

But it is not just Tasmania that will be suffering, with the Star Alliance carrier also planning to halt flights to Seoul in South Korea.

Air New Zealand said it now has "a clearer understanding" of Pratt & Whitney (P&W) engine maintenance schedule changes and the impact it will have on its passengers and operations.

As a result, it will suspend its services to both Seoul and Hobart with no resumption dates announced.

In July, Pratt & Whitney disclosed a condition affecting the maintenance plan for the Geared Turbofan (GTF) jet engine fleet, with up to 700 engines globally to be impacted over the next three years, with a major effect on global aviation. 

“Air New Zealand has 17 A320/321NEO aircraft in its fleet of 108 aircraft, serving Australia, the Pacific Islands and domestic New Zealand," said Air New Zealand chief executive officer Greg Foran.

"While this maintenance issue does not present a safety issue, it has caused Air New Zealand to revise its flight schedule as a result of adjustments made to the engine maintenance plan.

“We’ve been able to reorganise most of our schedule by consolidating some flying and moving aircraft to different routes. Most customers whose flights have been changed will still fly on the same day, some on international flights will be reaccommodated to services a day either side of their original booking and some may have a cabin change due to a different aircraft being used.

“We have also taken the difficult decision to pause two of our international routes. Flights connecting Auckland and Hobart will pause from April 5, 2024, with our Auckland to Seoul service paused from  April 1, 2024. 

"The pause on flying to Seoul is to allow more resiliency when the Trent1000 engines that power our 787 fleet go for regular maintenance due to potential issues with the availability of spare engines from Rolls Royce to cover the maintenance period.

“While both routes have performed well, we need to ensure we can deliver a reliable service across the rest of our network and get customers on our most in-demand routes to where they need to be. 

"Customers will still be able to book to Hobart and Seoul with Air New Zealand, but these flights won’t be direct and will be partly operated by our partner airlines.” .

He added that the impacts of the Pratt & Whitney servicing schedule change are significant and could impact services for up to two years, with the airline forced to have up to four aircraft grounded at any one time.

“Leasing additional aircraft is an option we are looking at closely," he said. "Our latest leased Boeing 777-367ER aircraft is about to enter service and we are considering other lease options.”

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