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Air New Zealand faces worsening problems with Pratt & Whitney engines

Air New Zealand’s (ASX:AIZ) growing problems with Pratt and Whitney engines on some of its airliners appear to be worse than initially estimated and could have an impact on Trans-Tasman travel.

In a statement released on Wednesday morning, the airline announced that travelers should anticipate “significant” scheduling changes in the coming months due to engine problems necessitating the removal of some planes for repairs.

In the NZX/ASX announcement on Wednesday morning, the airline revealed that in July 2023, American aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney disclosed a condition affecting the maintenance plan for the Geared Turbo-Fan (GTF) jet engine fleet.

Overnight on Tuesday, Pratt & Whitney provided a market update, stating that 600 to 700 engines globally would be impacted over the next three years.

Air New Zealand operates 16 A320/321NEO aircraft among its fleet of 106 planes, primarily servicing Australia and the Pacific Island markets, with some domestic New Zealand flights.

The announcement clarified, “This issue will further reduce engine availability and is expected to have a significant impact on the airline’s schedule from January 2024. It does not present a safety issue.”

“While there is no immediate impact on Air New Zealand’s flights, it is likely that the airline will need to make adjustments to its schedule in the coming months, some of which may be significant,” the airline added.

Air New Zealand stated that it will collaborate with Pratt & Whitney on a new maintenance plan and evaluate how this might affect the airline’s future flight schedule. The revised maintenance plan is expected to be ready by the end of November.

This news represents a significant setback for the airline, which had just returned to profitability after three consecutive years of losses. The airline reported a profit of $NZ412 million in the year ending June 30, marking a turnaround from the $NZ591 million loss in 2021. Revenue for 2022-23 surged by 135% to $NZ6.45 billion.

Air NZ shares closed at 70 Australian cents on the ASX on Tuesday.

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