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Air New Zealand's First Airbus Touches Down

New Era Of Aviation Dawns As Air New Zealand's First Airbus Touches Down

Air New Zealand's first Airbus A320 aircraft touched down on New Zealand soil at noon Sunday, heralding a new era of aviation history in this country.


Air New Zealand's new Airbus A320 touches down at Auckland International Airport.

At the completion of its epic 22,700 kilometre delivery flight from the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France the A320 was greeted by a traditional water cannon salute on arrival at Auckland International Airport.


Former Air New Zealand pilots form a guard of honour to welcome the crew of the first Airbus A320 to join Air New Zealand's trans-Tasman fleet.

Designed as a short-haul aircraft, the A320's five-stop, three-day journey was one of the longest undertaken by an Airbus on a delivery flight. Broken into five journeys due to the aircraft's maximum flying range of 5,550 kilometres, the Airbus A320 flew from Toulouse across the Atlantic to Gander, New Foundland then onto Winnipeg, Los Angeles, Honolulu and Apia before reaching Auckland.


The new Air New Zealand Airbus A320 is greeted at Auckland International Airport with an official water canon welcome.

A special low-level fly-past over Auckland city including a run up the Waitemata Harbour at just 1,000 feet above sea level gave thousands of residents the chance to see the Airbus in New Zealand skies for the first time.

On its arrival at Auckland, the aircraft was met by a historic guard of honour. Ten former Air New Zealand pilots, spanning more than 60 years of aviation history, lined up at the foot of the aircraft steps to welcome the delivery crew.

Representing most major aircraft types operated by Air New Zealand - from the Tasman Empire Airways Limited Sunderland flying boats to the Boeing 747 - the VIP line-up put the airline's newest acquisition in historical context.

The Airbus A320, registration ZK-OJA, is the first of 15 A320's ordered by Air New Zealand. Seven of the Airbus A320s will be in operation in the next seven months, mainly servicing the trans-Tasman route as part of Air New Zealand's new Tasman Express. The remainder of Air New Zealand's new 15 strong Airbus A320 fleet will arrive progressively by early 2006.

ZK-OJA now goes into the Air New Zealand engineering hangar in Auckland for a week to undergo minor finishing and inspection work before entering service on Monday September 29 with a special VIP flight taking in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

New Chapter For Air New Zealand Greeted By Historic Welcome Party

A guard of honour spanning more than 60 years of Air New Zealand history greeted the touchdown of the airline's first Airbus A320 today.

Ten former pilots representing most of the major aircraft types flown by Air New Zealand since its earliest incarnation in 1940 provided the historical context for the newest addition to the fleet.

Lined up at the steps of the aircraft to welcome the delivery team home, the special guard of honour included 85-year old Captain Bill Miles, the first fighter pilot to become an airline pilot in this country.

Captain Miles, who flew Spitfires for the US Navy off aircraft carriers in World War II, said he is very keen to see the often-discussed 'fly by wire' feature of the new Airbus A320. "Our aircraft were controlled with steel cables and pulleys. I gather this latest plane is so far removed from this with its control inputs through electrical wiring to computers." Captain Miles flew early Dominie aircraft, the six-seater De Havilland DH89, Electras, Lockheed Lodestars, DC3s and Fokker Friendships.

Captain Miles was joined by nine other former pilots who between them have flown Sunderlands, Sandringham and Solent flying boats, De Havilland Fox Moth bi-planes, Lodestars, Lockheed 10As, Douglas DC-3s as well as that icon of former domestic travel with NAC, the Fokker Friendship.

Other members of the ten strong guard of honour were Captains Maurie McGreal, Schem Dowd, Jack Budd, Bill Mackley, Bill Kirk, Roy Montrowe, Eddie Tredrea, Mick Taylor and Lindsay Caudwell.

Short Haul Aircraft Perfect For Trans-Tasman Market

The arrival of Air New Zealand's first Airbus A320 begins the gradual transition of Tasman operations from the airline's traditional stable of Boeing 737 and 767 aircraft to the new Airbus.

A total of seven Airbus will be delivered over the next seven months and will progressively enter service as part of Air New Zealand's new Tasman Express, offering an enhanced level of customer comfort and cabin spaciousness.

Seating 138 in Economy Class and eight in Business Class, the Airbus A320 has a greater cabin width than Boeing aircraft, allowing for wider seats as well as greater overhead stowage.

Air New Zealand Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Ralph Norris explained: "The A320 has comfortable cabin interiors, the best economics and the best cargo capability as well as being arguably the most modern aircraft in its class."

"The more spacious cabin and wider seats in the A320 will provide us with more flexibility to meet our passenger needs while its superior economics will translate into a larger positive contribution to our financial performance."

History Of Air New Zealand Aircraft

Aircraft Type When Introduced To Air New Zealand Fleet

KEY ROUTES FLOWN

Short S.30 Empire Class flying boat

1940, as Tasman Empire Airways Limited

Auckland-Sydney "Aotearoa" media first flight April 30, 1940

1942- Special reconnaissance work also undertaken to New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Hawaii to help the war effort.

Tasman-Class flying boats

1946

Auckland-Sydney

Solent flying boat

1949

Flagship "Aotearoa II" christened by HRH Princess Elizabeth in Belfast

First crossed the Tasman in record time of 5 hours, 37 minutes

DC4 Skymaster

1951

Leased first Christchurch - Melbourne service

De Havilland 114-1B Heron

1952

Joins NAC fleet

Rongotai Airport, Wellington to Blenheim and Nelson

DC3

1953

All domestic routes as far north as Whangarei

DC6

1953

Trans-Tasman and Pacific service

Vickers Viscount

1958

Domestic services

Electra jet-prop

1959

Pacific and trans-Tasman service

Fokker Friendship F27

1960

Domestic services

DC8

1965

Trans-Tasman services and new Los Angeles services, Singapore and Hong Kong services

Boeing 737-200

1968

Domestic and Noumea services

DC-10

1973

Auckland-Los Angeles, trans-Tasman and new Asian services

Boeing 747

1981

Trans-Tasman, Asian and Los Angeles service

Boeing 767

1985

Trans-Tasman and Pacific routes

Boeing 747-400

1989

Los Angeles, Pacific and Asian services

Boeing 767-300

1991

Los Angeles, Pacific and Asian services

Boeing 737-300

1998

Domestic, trans-Tasman and Pacific services

Airbus A320

2003

Trans-Tasman and Noumea

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