The first of Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787-9 aircraft to be constructed has achieved a major milestone this week with the arrival of the first major part of the new aircraft at Boeing’s Everett factory in Seattle three weeks ahead of schedule.
The aircraft is approaching the crucial final assembly phase which means the horizontal stabilizer section that arrived this week from another US-based Boeing facility is the first of many that will be delivered to Seattle over the coming weeks to form the world’s first ever 787-9 aircraft.
Air New Zealand is the launch customer for the 787-9 – which is longer than the 787-8 currently in operation – and the airline will welcome 10 of these new generation aircraft into its fleet between 2014 and 2017.
Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon describes the 787-9 as a game changer for the airline.
“It’s hugely exciting to see the first ever 787-9 taking shape because of the significant growth opportunities these aircraft present for our business. Having 10 new long haul aircraft enter our fleet over the next four years means we will be able to add more capacity and greater frequency to existing destinations, as well as explore new destination opportunities throughout the Pacific Rim.
“Not only does this herald a significant growth phase for us, we’ll be able to do it with super efficient new aircraft. These aircraft use 20 percent less fuel than similar size alternatives which means they’re both cost effective to operate and environmentally sound.”
The Vice President of Marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Randy Tinseth says, “Receiving the first major part is an exciting and visible sign of the progress we’re making on the 787-9. We look forward to the first flight of the 787-9 later this year and the first delivery in early in 2014 to Air New Zealand, our valued partner.”
Air New Zealand expects the first of its new fleet of 787-9 aircraft to operate on the airline’s international network from mid 2014.