In July 2023, Pratt & Whitney disclosed a condition that would impact the maintenance plan for the Geared Turbofan (GTF) jet engine fleet.
Air New Zealand, with its fleet of 108 aircraft, found itself directly affected by these changes. The New Zealand national carrier has now provided an update on how it is managing the issue and what it means for its commercial flight operations.
Understanding the Impact
The disclosure by Pratt & Whitney affects up to 700 engines worldwide over the next three years, with the most substantial impact expected in the coming year.
Air New Zealand, operating 17 A320/321NEO aircraft serving various destinations, was quick to address the situation.
While it’s important to note that this maintenance issue doesn’t pose a safety concern, it has prompted the airline to re-evaluate its flight scheduling.
Air New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer, Greg Foran, emphasized the importance of maintaining service quality while managing the modifications to the engine maintenance plan.
The airline has adopted a proactive approach by consolidating some flights and rerouting aircraft to different destinations.
For most affected passengers, this means flying on the same day, albeit with potential cabin changes due to the utilization of different aircraft.
However, two international routes, Auckland to Hobart and Auckland to Seoul, will temporarily pause their services.
This decision is primarily driven by the need to ensure a reliable service across the rest of the network.
The pause on flights to Seoul, in particular, is a strategic move to accommodate the regular maintenance of Trent1000 engines powering Air New Zealand’s 787 fleet.
This decision seeks to mitigate potential issues arising from the availability of spare engines provided by Rolls Royce during the maintenance period.
Partnering for Continuity
The pause on these routes doesn’t mean the end of the line for passengers traveling to Hobart and Seoul. Air New Zealand has taken the initiative to ensure that customers can still book flights to these destinations.
However, these flights will no longer be direct and will involve collaboration with partner airlines to maintain connectivity.
Minimal Disruption for Affected Passengers
For impacted Air New Zealand customers, Air New Zealand has advised that there is no need to fret or contact the airline.
The airline intends to proactively reach out in the coming weeks, providing the necessary information to adjust any affected travel plans accordingly.
The goal is to minimize inconvenience while ensuring a smooth transition during this period of adjustment.
The Pratt & Whitney servicing schedule change carries substantial implications, affecting Air New Zealand’s services for potentially up to two years.
As a result of the maintenance issues, the airline will have up to four aircraft grounded simultaneously.
In addition to addressing these engine-related challenges, the company is also tackling other supply chain issues, echoing challenges faced by airlines globally.
Air New Zealand is actively exploring the option of leasing additional aircraft to address these challenges.
The imminent entry into service of the leased Boeing 777-367ER aircraft is a significant step in this direction, with further lease options under consideration.
Strengthening Customer Support
Recognizing the increased demand for customer support resulting from schedule changes, Air New Zealand has taken measures to enhance its contact center’s capabilities.
The airline is partnering with external companies to expand its team of consultants, ensuring that customer queries are addressed promptly and efficiently.
Simultaneously, the carrier is actively recruiting locally to bolster its in-house contact center resources.
The aviation industry, by nature, is complex and ever-evolving. These recent developments, while disappointing for some customers, have been necessitated by unforeseen circumstances.
Air New Zealand says that it appreciates the loyalty and support of its customers during these challenging times and remains committed to ensuring stability across its network.
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