Air New Zealand has been forced to cancel dozens of international flights due to problems with some Rolls-Royce engines on its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
The cancellations will impact services to Australia including the suspension of an Auckland-Perth route affecting 62 flights.
Other routes affected during the southern hemisphere summer include Auckland-Sydney and Auckland-Tonga.
Around 14,000 passengers will be affected due to the engine manufacturer requiring airlines operating its Trent 1000 Ten engines to conduct more frequent maintenance due to an issue with high-pressure turbine blades.
Air New Zealand has ten Trent 1000 TEN engines fitted to its 787-9 fleet and has been working to minimise disruption but schedule changes are now “unavoidable”.
Further alterations may also be required as the airline progresses the engine checks, the carrier warned.
“Rolls-Royce does not have any replacement engines available while maintenance work is undertaken and has advised Air New Zealand there’s significant wait for repair services,” the airline said.
Air New Zealand senior manager customer care and communications Doug Grant said the airline never expected to still be facing issues with its Rolls-Royce engines.
“Going into the holiday season we’re acutely aware how important travel is to our customers, and our schedule changes are designed to keep cancellations to a minimum.
“Unfortunately, around 14,000 customers will be impacted by cancellations and we thank them in advance for their understanding.”
Air New Zealand has been “managing issues” with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines since December 2017, when it first secured lease aircraft capacity to help maintain its timetable. The airline still has one widebody aircraft on lease from Eva Air in its fleet.
Senior 787 fleet manager captain Dave Wilson said the airline has been performing regular precautionary checks on its TEN engines since April and has been doing all it can to fast-track required maintenance from Rolls-Royce.
“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.
“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.”
There is no impact to the airline’s 22 Trent 1000 Package C model engines as a result of the blade issue.
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