Air New Zealand expects that additional leased aircraft will enable it to fulfill its network plans despite having to ground some of its Boeing 787s because of Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine problems.

The airline plans to introduce two dry-leased 777s, Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon said on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Sydney. One is a former Singapore Airlines’ aircraft, and is scheduled to arrive by late July. The carrier aims to lease the other from Taiwan’s EVA Air in mid-August, although this is still under negotiation, Luxon said.

The introduction of these two aircraft will allow Air New Zealand to “deliver the schedule we want” with “reliability and consistency,” Luxon said. The carrier will be able to cover its summer peak season flying, and its planned addition of a new route from Auckland to Chicago on Nov. 30.

With the dry-leased aircraft, Air New Zealand can have up to two of its 787s grounded at any one time as engines are replaced. Air New Zealand is one of several 787 operators affected by problems with Trent 1000 engines as Rolls-Royce tries to resolve ongoing issues with the engine’s compressor.

The carrier has experienced schedule disruptions as a result of the 787 grounding and has had to slow the introduction of onboard Wi-Fi because of the fleet issues. These factors have been “incredibly frustrating” for the airline this year, Luxon said.

Later this year, Air New Zealand will begin taking delivery of Airbus A321neos for use on its routes to Australia. The first of these is set to arrive in late September or October, Luxon said.

The carrier is also in the early stages of the decision process for a new widebody order. Air New Zealand will use this order to eventually replace its eight Boeing 777-200ERs. The airline also wants the replacement aircraft type to be able to fly nonstop from Auckland to destinations on the east coast of North and South America, such as New York, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Luxon said a request for proposals for its requirements will likely be released by March or April of 2019, with an order decision likely by the end of that year.

Adrian Schofield, avweekscho@gmail.com