The aircraft, which is 14.90 years old and was previously leased to Cathay Pacific (CX) based in Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), was transported to Auckland in mid-October. It is currently undergoing maintenance and is scheduled to commence service in mid-November.
Air New Zealand Leases Boeing 777
The aircraft, formerly identified as B-KPJ with the manufacturer serial number (MSN) 36157, has been registered in the New Zealand aircraft registry as ZK-OKU, reported Ch-aviation.
In September 2020, Cathay Pacific placed the aircraft into deep storage at Alice Springs, but it did not return to scheduled flights for the airline. Instead, it was returned to the lessor.
Air New Zealand’s CEO, Greg Foran, announced in September that the lease for the aircraft was imminent, though he did not disclose its source. ZK-OKU will help alleviate the carrier’s long-haul capacity shortage as it awaits the delivery of two Boeing 787-9s and six 787-10s.
Foran also stated that he is actively searching for a second 777-300ER to lease. Currently, Air New Zealand operates seven aircraft of this type.
The second 777 is sought to address capacity issues arising from certain Airbus Neo jets being taken out of service due to the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engine recall.
Deployment on US and Australian Routes
ZK-OKU is scheduled to operate a route that runs three times a week from Melbourne Tullamarine to Auckland, then to Houston, back to Auckland, and finally returning to Melbourne. Additionally, it will operate several services to Sydney Kingsford Smith in the latter part of November.
Notably, ZK-OKU has garnered local attention due to its superior premium cabin offerings compared to Air New Zealand’s existing long-haul product.
Unfortunately, passengers on ZK-OKU won’t have access to in-flight WiFi, as Air New Zealand lacks a contract to use the installed Panasonic system.
The arrival of ZK-OKU coincides with the conclusion of a wet-lease agreement with Wamos Air, where they were operating an A330-200 on behalf of Air New Zealand for the Auckland to Perth International route.
This arrangement, which commenced in October 2022, is set to end on October 28, 2023, as Air New Zealand plans to reintroduce one of its own B787-9s to service the route.
Wamos Air’s aircraft, registered as EC-NBN with the manufacturer serial number (MSN) 818, was also popular among premium cabin passengers due to its superior seating product.
Despite the addition of ZK-OKU, the return of the A330 to Spain is expected to place future strain on Air New Zealand’s widebody aircraft inventory.
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