Air New Zealand has concluded an agreement with Airbus to acquire 15 A320s, with options on up to 20 more aircraft from the same family, in a major fleet-modernisation that will make it an Airbus customer for the first time.
The deal was announced at a signing ceremony in Auckland attended by Air New Zealand Chairman John Palmer, Managing Director and CEO Ralph Norris and Airbus Executive Vice President Customer Affairs and Chief Commercial Officer John Leahy.
Air New Zealand will begin receiving the aircraft - acquired through a mix of leases and purchases - in October 2003. It will use the the initial Airbus A320s on flights between New Zealand and Australia, as well on Pacific island services.
Air New Zealand has yet to select engines to power the aircraft.
‘‘After a thorough evaluation, the A320 family emerged as the best solution for our needs - it has the most comfortable cabin, the best economics and the best cargo capability - as well as being the most modern aircraft in its class, ‘’ says Ralph Norris. ‘‘The more spacious cabin of the A320 family aircraft will provide us with more flexibility to meet the needs of our passengers, while its superior economics will translate into a larger positive contribution to our financial performance, ‘’ he adds.
The best-selling Airbus A320 family comprises the A318, A319, A320 and A321, which share the same airframe,cockpit and handling qualities. They are in widespread airline service around the world, and consistently lead in independent passenger surveys. The A320 has excellent range capability, and is already certificated for 120 min ETOPS flights.
‘‘We are very pleased to welcome Air New Zealand as the 110th customer for the increasingly popular A320 family, which continues to win widespread acclaim as the most efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft in its class,’’ says John Leahy.
`‘As one of the world’s oldest and most respected airlines, Air New Zealand is renowned for its high level of passenger comfort, service and reliability, and we are delighted that it has chosen our A320 family to introduce new standards on its regional international services,’’ adds Airbus Chief Executive Officer No‘l Forgeard.
Airbus has a long-established and increasingly strong presence in the Pacific, where most of the major airlines have made its aircraft the cornerstone of their future fleets. Airbus designs, builds and supports the world’s most modern airliner family, has sold some 4,500 aircraft, and has around 200 customers and operators around the world. It is a joint EADS Company with BAE SYSTEMS.