Air New Zealand (NZ, Auckland Int'l) will dry-lease two B777-200(ER)s, one more than previously planned, to cover for the downtime of the B787-9s related to the inspections of the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, CEO Christopher Luxon has told Reuters at the IATA AGM.

The carrier has previously announced that it will dry-lease one B777-200(ER) from Singapore Airlines. ZK-OKI (msn 32336, ex 9V-SVL) is currently undergoing pre-delivery maintenance at Singapore Changi. The aircraft will be deployed on the Auckland Int'l-Honolulu daily service between July 17 and September 2, ch-aviation schedule analysis shows. It will operate in the current seat configuration with 245 Economy Class and 26 Business Class seats.

The carrier has not disclosed from whom will it dry-lease the second unit of the type yet.

Despite the dry-leases, the carrier has said it is expecting limited reschedulings and cancellations between June and the end of October 2018. Air New Zealand expects that the problem with the engines will have been resolved by the commencement of the Winter 2018/19 schedule.

The New Zealandic flag carrier currently operates eleven B787-9s with Trent 1000 engines. Out of these, two are currently grounded: ZK-NZF (msn 34335) since May 28, 2018, and ZK-NZG (msn 37963) since April 18.

"Any one point in time we are planning to have between zero to two aircraft that will be cycling off to have aircraft inspections and/or maintenance," Luxon has said.

In the medium-term, the carrier is preparing to renew its own fleet of eight B777-200(ER)s. A Request for Proposals (RFP) may be issued at the end of the first quarter or early in the second quarter of 2019, Luxon has revealed. The carrier is looking at both Airbus and Boeing jets, with A350s, B777X, and B787-10 models in contention. It may choose the A350-900(ULR) variant which would allow it to enter the ultra-long-haul market with direct flights from Auckland to destinations such as New York or Brazil.