Flag carrier Air New Zealand has suspended its flights from Auckland to Chicago direct route for at least seven months due to “heavy maintenance” requirements on engines sooner than expected. 

The airline flies three Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes on the major route, but issues with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines used to power the aircraft mean they will be out of service from the end of March until October 2024. 

Air New Zealand explained the issue in a statement to the press: “Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines normally require heavy maintenance, where they are taken off the aircraft and sent to the offshore manufacturer for inspection, after 1000 engine cycles (take-offs and landings). During regular inspections, Air New Zealand engineers identified that the engines required maintenance after 750-850 cycles.”

“Rolls-Royce has been unable to provide Air New Zealand with spare or replacement engines to deliver the level of service needed, leading to a reduction in the amount of flying Air New Zealand can deliver via its 787 fleet.” 

Chief customer officer Leanne Geraghty said: “It’s not a decision we’ve made lightly and we’re sorry to make this change so close to the time some customers plan to fly.”

She added that other flights from New Zealand’s largest airport to other US destinations would remain. 

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“We made the tough decision to temporarily pause the Chicago route while maintaining our schedule of up to 35 flights each week to six ports across the US and Canada, so there are still plenty of options to get to Chicago, the US, and beyond,” Geraghty said. 

The airline said any passengers with existing bookings would be rerouted to another US airport and then onwards to Chicago, or a full refund in cash or credit if they prefer. 

“Getting our customers to their destination safely is our number one priority and to do that, we need to ensure our aircraft and engines are maintained to the highest standard. These challenges do not present a safety risk to customers flying on our 787 fleet,” CCO Geraghty maintained.