Air New Zealand has recently announced it will be extending the grounding of its long haul fleet in the face of uncertain demand for future travel, in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.
They have said that the long-range Boeing 777 fleet will be grounded until at least September 2021. It is also possible that the aircraft will be retired early,as the airline has ordered some new Boeing 787-10s (although the date of delivery for these has also been pushed back).
The airline,in the face of new outbreaks in New Zealand, a country that had previously been successful at ‘eliminating’ the virus, believes that the recovery of travel,particularly long-haul international travel, "is now looking to be slower than initially thought”, in a recent statement from Air New Zealand Chief Operating Officer Carrie Hurihanganui.
“The recent resurgence of cases in New Zealand is a reminder that this is a highly volatile situation. We are not anticipating a return to any 777 flying until September 2021 at the earliest, which is why we have made the decision to ground the fleet until at least this time next year."
Three of the Boeing 777-300 aircraft will be stored in hangars at their Auckland base,though the rest will be stored, with hundreds of other aircraft from across the world, in the Californian desert. Qantas have also parked their flagship A380 aircraft there, likely until 2023.
The Boeing 777-200s will be stored at a base in Roswell, New Mexico (yes, that Roswell).