Air New Zealand sees ‘significant’ hit to flight schedule from RTX engine issue

By Rajesh Kumar Singh

(Reuters) -Air New Zealand on Tuesday warned that inspections of RTX’s Pratt & Whitney engines would have a “significant” impact on its flight schedule from next year.

RTX this week estimated that it will have to pull 600 to 700 engines from Airbus A320neo jets for quality inspections between 2023 and 2026 to check for a rare manufacturing flaw.

“This issue will further reduce engine availability and is expected to have a significant impact on the airline’s schedule from January 2024,” Air New Zealand said in a statement.

Shares in the carrier lost 1% in afternoon trade.

Air New Zealand has 16 A320neo jets in its fleet of 106 aircraft, servicing Australia and the Pacific Island markets and, to a much lesser extent, the domestic market.

Repair work that RTX CEO Greg Hayes had initially expected would take 60 days is now projected to last up to 300 days per engine. An average of 350 jets could be grounded per year through 2026, with as many as 650 jets sitting idle in the first half of 2024.

Industry sources have said the new checks could exacerbate a tug of war for engines between airplane factories and repair shops, as airlines clamour for engines to be diverted from assembly lines and made available as spares to keep existing jets flying.

Major customers that took delivery of affected A320neo jets include Spirit Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines and Wizz Air, according to aviation data provider Cirium.

Hungary’s Wizz Air, one of Europe’s largest lost-cost airlines, on Monday said its capacity could be reduced by 10% in the second half of 2024 as a result.

(Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh in New Delhi and Navya Mittal in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Miyoung Kim and Edwina Gibbs)