18 Apr 2018

Thousands to be affected by Air NZ engine maintenance

7:58 pm on 18 April 2018

Thousands of Air New Zealand passengers will be affected by cancellations and rescheduled flights until the middle of next week because of urgent engine maintenance.

An Air New Zealand 787-9 Dreamliner at the Boeing Delivery Center in 2014.

An Air New Zealand 787-9 Dreamliner at the Boeing Delivery Center in 2014. Photo: AFP / STEPHEN BRASHEAR / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA

The Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines the airline uses in its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner fleet have been plagued with problems since last year.

Air New Zealand says European regulators have asked operators to do earlier-than-usual maintenance checks on a specific part of the engine.

Nine Air New Zealand 787 Dreamliner planes have been caught out in the latest global issue with Rolls Royce engines.

Rolls Royce said about 380 Trent 1000 Package C series engines throughout the world were affected - nine of those here.

It has not gone into detail about the compressor issue - but now requires a maintenance check after 300 cycles - down from 2000.

A cycle is defined as when a plane takes off then lands again.

The changes couldn't come at a worse time.

Air New Zealand said it was a very busy time of year for travel.

It said the checks it was doing today would disrupt international and domestic flights, and it apologised to the 6500 passengers who would be affected.

It said they were all being contacted.

Air New Zealand said it may have to bring in other planes from an outside company to keep up with flight demand.

In response to the same issue in December, Air New Zealand chartered two jets from a Portuguese company Hi Fly to operate on some trans-Tasman routes.

The company said it was considering using Hi Fly once again to keep flights close to schedule.

Meanwhile, aviation commentator Geoffrey Thomas said the engine issues had done a lot of damage to the image of Rolls Royce and airlines choosing new planes might now look twice before choosing the company.

Mr Thomas, who is the editor-in-chief of airlineratings.com, said Rolls Royce would not be unscathed.

"It does a lot of damage to Rollys Royce, a lot of damage, and it goes on top of previous problems relating to the A380, the engine that powered that.

"Look, it's a very very good company, I'm sure they'll recover from this, but it certainly gives them a black eye."