By Tim Hepher
PARIS (Reuters) - Air New Zealand Ltd has decided to buy wide-body planes from Boeing Co, people with direct knowledge of the matter said, ending an 18 month battle between the U.S. aircraft maker and European rival Airbus SE.
The carrier has been considering replacing eight Boeing 777-200ER aircraft in a deal worth over $2 billion at list prices, though carriers typically receive steep discounts. Air New Zealand already uses Boeing wide-bodies exclusively on long-haul flights, and Airbus single-aisle jets on shorter routes.
The final choices under consideration were the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350, Air New Zealand Chief Financial Officer Jeff McDowall said in a video interview with the New Zealand Herald published on Saturday.
"They are both fantastic aircraft," McDowall said. "Both produce a fantastic customer experience compared to the existing aircraft but also a lower cost and lower carbon emissions... We expect to make a decision soon, in the next month."
Air New Zealand already operates 13 787-9 jets and has one more on order. The airline did not respond to a Reuters' request for comment. It will hold an annual investor briefing on May 27.
Boeing and Airbus declined to comment. The people with direct knowledge of the matter declined to be identified ahead of a public announcement.
Air New Zealand's chief executive, Christopher Luxon, last year told Reuters the larger Boeing 777X was also under consideration, and that the airline planned to use the new jets to begin longer routes such as Auckland to New York and Brazil.
In March, CFO McDowall in an analyst briefing said the airline would need fewer replacement jets in 2023 than initially anticipated due to changes in its flight network.
Air New Zealand began a two-year cost reduction program in March and deferred aircraft capital expenditure of about NZ$750 million ($490.1 million) as part of a business review.
A month earlier, it slashed domestic fares by as much as 50% in a shake-up of its pricing structure in response to a slackening travel market.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher in PARIS; Additional reporting by Praveen Menon in WELLINGTON; Editing by Stephen Coates and Christopher Cushing)