DUBLIN—Air New Zealand is holding discussions with U.S. officials in an attempt to improve transit passenger processing times at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for the stopover on its Auckland–London flight.

The airline has held discussions with Los Angeles’ mayor and senior officials at Los Angeles World Airports, Christopher Luxon, CEO of the airline, told Aviation Daily at the IATA annual general meeting here.

One of the carrier’s daily Auckland—Los Angeles flights continues to London after a stop of about two hours in LAX, where it can board more passengers for the London leg. However, all passengers flying both legs must deplane and exit through customs and border control, then immediately go back through the security screening lines to gate areas.

Air New Zealand is one of only a handful of carriers that have stopovers of this type at LAX. The transit passenger processing time has gotten worse over the past year, Luxon said. The main reasons appear to be heightened security concerns and budget constraints in the Homeland Security Department, he said.

The system at LAX makes the transit process difficult for passengers, and for premium passengers it means they often have very little time in the Star Alliance international lounge at the airport, which is run by Air New Zealand.

Luxon admits it could be tough to gain any kind of exemptions or process changes, but the airline is “determined to do everything we can” to spur improvements and reduce passenger processing times.

Regarding fleet developments, Air New Zealand is considering the launch of a cabin-refurbishment program for its Boeing 777-300ER fleet, Luxon said. The carrier recently completed a refurbishment for its eight 777-200ERs, and intends to do the same with its seven -300ERs within the next few years. The first of the -300ERs were delivered in 2010.

Luxon said internal discussions are underway, and a decision will be made about the timing and scope of the -300ER refurbishment by the end of this year. One possible option for the carrier is removing its unique “Spaceseat” premium-economy seat modules and installing the Zodiac seats that are in its other widebody fleet types.

Air New Zealand is making progress on the phaseout of its Beech 1900D turboprop fleet. The carrier previously operated 18 of the aircraft, but has now retired all but three. The last of the 1900Ds are due to exit the fleet by mid-August. The carrier has been receiving new ATR 72-600s as the 1900Ds leave.

Two upcoming ATR 72-600 deliveries will give Air New Zealand a total of 24 ATR turboprops, consisting of -600s and -500s. Further -600 deliveries will boost the fleet to 29, and will then progressively replace the -500s.

The airline has also been gradually phasing out its 767-300ERs. Two more 767s have recently been withdrawn from service, leaving three in the fleet. Three more 787-9s are due to be delivered by the end of this year.