Air New Zealand, the launch customer for the Boeing 787-9, expects first delivery of the aircraft to occur in June or July next year.

This is the most specific prediction the airline has given for the 787-9’s arrival. Another two widebodies are due to be delivered to Air New Zealand later in 2014, and are set to arrive around September, said CEO Christopher Luxon at a Star Alliance event during the International Air Transport Association’s annual general meeting in Cape Town.

The carrier has 10 787-9s on order.

Luxon says a final decision on the 787-9’s first route will be made in the next few months. However, he says it is most likely to be introduced on the airline’s existing service between Auckland Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport. New routes designed for the 787 probably will not be launched until 2015, says Luxon.

The airline will begin a process of deciding on the next phase of its fleet plan within the next 18 months, Luxon says. The next Air New Zealand aircraft type that eventually will need replacing will be its fleet of eight Boeing 777-200ERs. However, Luxon notes that these are still “quite modern aircraft,” and the carrier could operate them until about 2020 if it needs to.