Air New Zealand Suspends Chicago Fligths Until Late 2025

Daniel Fowkes
21 Apr 2024
· Aircraft 
· Airlines 
· Routes 
An Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner arrives into Hong Kong from Auckland

Air New Zealand is extending the pause of its popular Auckland to Chicago service as a response to ongoing engine challenges impacting its operation.

An updated service suspension is expected to continue into the second half of 2025, which adds almost another full year to the suspension.

Previously, Air New Zealand said the Auckland to Chicago flight would resume sometime in October of 2024. However, now that will not be possible.

The airline adds that service resumption will only be possible thanks to the delivery of a new Boeing 787. However, the resumption will only occur if no further delays to the delivery timeframe are announced.

The airline was forced to suspend service initially because of the ongoing availability problems of the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine. Over the last decade, the company has been impacted by several problems involving this engine type.

Towards the latter stages of the 2010s, the company had many of its Boeing 787s grounded for an extended period amid the Trent 1000 engine problems. As a result, and not for the last time, the company was forced to look towards the leasing market to cover lost capacity.

A Widespread Problem

Air New Zealand is hardly the only airline experiencing negative ramifications from engine difficulties, as this is an industry-wide problem.

Away from the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 problems, attention lies on the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan engine problems. Unfortunately, Air New Zealand is also being impacted by this, with next-generation Airbus units such as the A321neo being grounded as a response.

Air New Zealand has been forced to turn to the leasing market and cut several routes and flights in response to this and to maintain a robust schedule.

While Air New Zealand faces engine problems from multiple angles, other leading companies such as Spirit Airlines are also feeling the effects with a substantial amount of their fleet grounded too.

Planned Capacity Increases

Despite a further suspension of service towards Chicago, Air New Zealand is still planning in 2025 to increase capacity as a response to growing demand.

The carrier will boost flights to key Asian markets from November 2024 through March 2025, with Tokyo, Taipei, and Singapore included in the adjustments.

Air New Zealand says expanding these markets is possible due to adding a further 777-300ER aircraft. The company already flies the 777-300ER, which is proving hugely reliable; however, adding further units is in direct response to the struggles felt with the 787.

The flag carrier had previously announced a major fleet update that would adjust its widebody usage long into the future. As part of the change, Air New Zealand said it would commit solely to the Boeing 787 for its future widebody needs and thus retire the 777 family, with the 777-200 having already departed.

Ultimately, several complications with the 787 program have meant the company hasn’t necessarily been able to move forward as it may have liked with this plan. The company is now being forced to rely more on the aircraft it was slated to remove.

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