Air New Zealand has announced it is reviewing after two of its planes impacted in a hangar at Auckland International Airport. A 787-9 Dreamliner is held to have hit a parked 777-300ER. The event took place on the morning of July 11th with both aircraft bearing damage.
Reportedly, a parked 777-300ER suffered damage to its tail after the wing of a 787-9 Dreamliner hit with it. The same type of incident also happened with Emirates and British Airway’s aircraft. The Dreamliner was being moved as Air New Zealand is reintroducing its 787-9s on some national flights. However, its 777-300s continue being grounded due to COVID-19. It is not clear if the airline is using a different plane while the damage is being repaired or if the aircraft wasn’t needed for an instant return to service.
Local news publication confirmed that no external investigation has taken place by New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority. So far, the airline has not reflected on the incident. According to a spokeswoman for Air New Zealand, they are “carrying out an internal investigation into an incident that took place at our hangar at Auckland Airport.”
The Air New Zealand’s fleet
It’s not yet clear if the aircrafts included in the incident are owned by Air New Zealand or on lease. The airline has seven Boeing777-300ERs, but three of these are on contract. Air New Zealand currently has 14 Boeing 787-9s.
Most of Air New Zealand’s fleet has been grounded and stored for numerous months. Although the recent virus outbreak led to many planes being grounded due to a lack of demand, Air New Zealand had grounded planes last year too.
The airline was required to cancel over 14,000 flights at the end of last year due to concerns with Rolls Royce engines on its Dreamliners. The planes needed maintenance, and continuing problems with the Airbus’s Trent engines have kept the aircraft grounded.
The 777s that will never get to fly again
With the virus outbreak earlier this year, Air New Zealand approved it would be grounding all its 777-200s and 777-300 until the end of the year. The airline has eight 777-200ERs with an average age of 14 years. Four of these are on lease. All eight are being assigned to long-term storage and may never fly again
Earlier this year, the airline indicated that it does not expect to recover from the impact of the virus for at least two years. With international travel demand low, and expected to remain low, the airline may abandon the aircraft and operate a smaller fleet in the future.
Currently, the airline is operating its flagship 787 Dreamliners on domestic flights. The carrier saw a huge surge in short-haul local operations as New Zealand’s borders are still tightly enclosed. The demand for aviation has been so high that the airline is adding its 787-9 to the A320s and A321s it usually operates on domestic routes.
The airline may be right in recommending that international and long-haul travel will take a while to recover. However, if domestic demand continues to thrive, we may see more planes removed from storage to offer more capacity. Hopefully, any planes leaving hangars will do so without incident.