Air New Zealand suspending Auckland-Chicago route from March 31 to October 25

An Air New Zealand 787-9 Dreamliner.
An Air New Zealand 787-9 Dreamliner. Photo credit: Getty Images

Air New Zealand is suspending its Auckland-Chicago direct route from March 31 through to October 25, blaming its ongoing availability issues with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines in Boeing 787 planes.

Passengers who have secured seats on the route during that time will be rebooked on alternate flights or can opt for a refund or credit, the airline said.

Affected customers who booked directly with the airline will be sent a new itinerary with a connection through another US airport this week. Those who booked through a travel agent are advised to contact them.

Passengers could get a refund and fly with a different airline, but Air NZ is the only carrier that offers non-stop airfares between Aotearoa and Chicago.

"We know this will be disappointing for customers travelling to and from Chicago during this period, especially to those travelling over the upcoming April holiday break. 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," said Leanne Geraghty, Air NZ's chief customer and sales officer.

"Unfortunately, Air NZ continues to be impacted by challenges with availability of Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, meaning we will now have up to three aircraft unavailable for an extended period, so we've had to review our schedule.

"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."

It's not the first time the airline has disrupted travel plans over engine issues, with the carrier announcing a pause on direct flights to Hobart and Seoul last year.

Air NZ said the engine challenges "do not present a safety risk to customers flying on our 787 fleet".