Air New Zealand has been forced to ground two aircraft due to a worldwide shortage of new aircraft engines. The airline estimates that as many as 150,000 passengers could be impacted by schedule changes that will run until replacement engines can be delivered.
The engines in question A320neo series engines which are produced by aerospace giant Pratt and Whitney. ‘NEO’ stands for ‘new engine option’, and these are quieter and more fuel efficient than previous generation A320 series engines.
Unfortunately, worldwide supply chain issues have hit Pratt and Whitney’s ability to supply Air New Zealand with enough engines, especially as regularly scheduled engine swaps have coincided with a rise in non-scheduled replacements.
Air New Zealand had actually been preparing for the possibility of running out of spare engines, but the airline had hoped supply chain issues would be rectified by June or July at the earliest. Now, the Aotearoa flag carrier fears the problems could persist until the end of the year.
“The scheduled removal of engines and usual non-scheduled removals are all coming together at the same time for every operator around the world,” explained Air New Zealand’s general manager of engineering, Brett Daley, to local publication Stuff.
“What we thought would be a problem with us until June, July is probably going to be with us to the end of the year,” Daley continued.
Two aircraft, only recently delivered to Air New Zealand, have now been grounded by the airline and will remain parked up until new engines can be delivered. One of the two aircraft is an Airbus A321neo in a domestic cabin configuration.
Although 150,000 passengers will be ‘impacted’ by the problem, the vast majority of passengers will still fly on the same day with only a one or two-hour schedule change.
Around 4,000 people will, though, have to travel a day early or late, and several hundred passengers will be forced to wait a couple of days for an alternative flight.
Daley says, however, the delays could have been even worse and that the airline is “fortunate” because it proactively managed the supply chain crunch before it grounded even more aircraft.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.