Travel chaos as Air New Zealand cancels flights
Christmas chaos looms for about 14,000 Air New Zealand customers who will be affected by ongoing Rolls-Royce engine checks on its 787-9 planes.
The national carrier confirmed today it had 10 Trent 1000 engines on its 787-9 fleet but that schedule changes were "now unavoidable".
The airline also said further cancellations may occur.
Rolls-Royce is asking operators of the engines to carry out more frequent maintenance because of an issue with its high-pressure turbine blades, Air NZ said.
"Rolls-Royce has told us it doesn't have the capacity to do this maintenance work quickly, as we are just one of many airlines affected globally," Air NZ said in a statement.
"We are deeply disappointed to be in this position again, but safety is paramount and non-negotiable.
"While we've worked hard to limit the impact, Rolls-Royce does not have any replacement engines and there's a significant wait for repairs at its Singapore facility.
"As a result, we've had to make some changes to our international schedule over summer, including a limited number of cancellations and changes to aircraft scheduled to operate some Tasman and Pacific Island services.
"Flights within New Zealand are not affected."
The biggest change is the suspension of Air NZ's twice-weekly Perth-Christchurch flight - resulting in the cancellation of 62 flights.
It will also cancel its second daily Auckland-Perth service from December 10 until January 5, 2020, the airline said in a statement sent to media.
Auckland-Sydney services and Auckland-Tonga services have also been cancelled.
Air New Zealand senior fleet manager 787 Captain Dave Wilson said the airline had been performing regular precautionary checks on the engines since April and had done all it could to fast-track the required maintenance.
"Based on the maintenance needs of our engines, we expect some will need to be inspected in December and January and then serviced by Rolls-Royce offshore and unfortunately, Rolls-Royce has no capacity to alleviate this pressure," he said.
"We have 14 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft in our fleet and four spare engines to power these. However, all these spare engines are with Rolls Royce offshore either undergoing service or waiting for a service slot."
Air NZ said it would start processing customers' bookings this week and then start to contact affected customers directly.
Details of flight suspensions and cancellations will be updated on the airline's website.