12 Mar 2024

Air New Zealand suspends Chicago service after Rolls-Royce engine headaches

1:56 pm on 12 March 2024
Air New Zealand Boeing 787 Dreamliner

An Air New Zealand Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The headline of this story has been corrected to clarify the engine is made by Rolls-Royce.

Air New Zealand is suspending its flights to Chicago, as it faces maintenance struggles with engines used on its Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

It comes after Air New Zealand engineers identified the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines needed heavy maintenance much earlier than originally planned, requiring them to be sent offshore to the manufacturer.

The airline said Rolls-Royce has not been able to provide spare or replacement engines, meaning up to three aircraft would be unavailable for an extended period.

It said the Auckland to Chicago service would be paused from the end of March to 25 October.

Customers would be rebooked, or could choose to receive a refund or credit.

Air New Zealand's chief customer and sales officer, Leanne Geraghty, said it was a difficult decision, but it wanted to ensure the least number of customers were affected.

"We know this will be disappointing for customers travelling to and from Chicago during this period, especially to those travelling over the upcoming April holiday break," she said.

"It's not a decision we've made lightly and we're sorry to make this change so close to the time some customers plan to fly."

Those who booked through a travel agent should contact their agent, the airline said.

Engine headaches

Air New Zealand had previously indicated the second half of its 2024 financial year would be increasingly difficult.

In addition to the Rolls-Royce engine maintenance issues affecting its 787s, it also faced headaches from its Pratt & Whitney engines on 17 of its Airbus A320 and 321 NEO aircraft.

In November, the airline warned services could be affected for two years as the Pratt & Whitney engines were checked for possible microscopic cracks in the engines' fans.

The Airbus aircraft served Australia, the Pacific Islands and domestic routes.

The issues meant the airline would have up to four Airbus aircraft grounded at any one time.

Air New Zealand had previously announced it would suspend flights to Hobart and Seoul as it dealt with its various engine maintenance requirements.

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