PM Launches Air New Zealand's Airbus Generation
Prime Minister Launches Air New Zealand's Airbus Generation
Prime Minister Helen Clark made history today when she became the first official passenger onboard Air New Zealand's new Airbus A320 aircraft.
Prime Minister Helen Clark makes herself comfortable in Air New Zealand's new A320 before take-off from Auckland Airport for the inaugural flight.
The 146-seat A320, one of 15 ordered by the airline, has its first public flight today, hosting invited guests on separate flights out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
The Prime Minister launched the historic flight in a ceremony at the Auckland domestic terminal before joining Air New Zealand Managing Director and Chief Executive Ralph Norris and other guests on the first leg of the special flight from Auckland to Wellington.
"We are honoured to have the Prime Minister as our guest on the inaugural flight," said Air New Zealand Managing Director and Chief Executive Ralph Norris.
"It has been a busy time for the company preparing for the introduction of the new fleet and it is exciting to have our first new Airbus going into service on this important day for Air New Zealand."
Making its first appearance in Wellington and Christchurch later in the day, the A320 will be given traditional water cannon welcomes from airport fire trucks when it touches down at 10am and 11.45am respectively.
Monday's national tour is also a special day for the two pilots, A320 Fleet Manager Captain Gerry Dunn and A320 Training Manager Captain Mike Henderson. The highly experienced pilots flew the aircraft on the 22,700-kilometre delivery journey from Toulouse to Auckland via Gander in Newfoundland, Winnipeg, Los Angeles, Honolulu and Apia.
Designed as a short-haul aircraft, the A320 will progressively join Air New Zealand's fleet with 15 to be delivered by early 2006, replacing the airline's stable of Boeing 737s and 767s. Seven of the new A320s will be in operation in the next seven months mainly servicing trans-Tasman routes for Air New Zealand's new Tasman Express, which takes off on October 29.
"The more spacious cabin, wider seats and greater capacity of the A320 provides us with more flexibility to meet our passenger needs," says Mr Norris.
"Customers will certainly enjoy the A320 service, with the opportunity to experience the newest fleet on the trans-Tasman route combined with every day low Tasman Express fares. It will provide Air New Zealand with a significant market advantage and customers with the best way to cross the Tasman."
Configured with 138 economy class seats and eight in business class, the Airbus design has greater cabin width allowing wider seats and increased overhead storage capacity.
A "New Pacific" theme distinguishes the interior cabin design, featuring colours that are recognisably New Zealand. Colour features include bronzed flax, silver mists, green waters and new blues. The use of Air New Zealand's corporate identity blue takes on an accenting role in the new design. The seats themselves are covered in a soft, New Zealand natural leather.
In another Air New Zealand first, inflight entertainment for business class customers boasts individual hand-held DVDs and a library of movie choices. There are also power ports for laptops in the business class seats.
With all those features, a select group of New
Zealanders will be the first to discover today just why Air
New Zealand's Airbus A320 is set to become such a new flight
experience in this part of the world.