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Arrival Of First Airbus A320 Signals New Era

2 June 2005

Arrival Of First Airbus A320 Signals New Era For Freedom Air

At 5.50pm on Saturday 4th June, Freedom Air's first new Airbus A320 will touch down in Auckland International Airport, signalling a new era and renewed confidence for the value-based airline.

The aircraft is the first of four new A320s which will replace Freedom Air's entire fleet of Boeing 737s before the end of the year.

The Airbus - ZK OJK - left Toulouse, where it was manufactured, on 1 June and travels via Gander in Canada, through the United States stopping at Denver, Los Angeles and Honolulu before it heads via Samoa's Apia to Auckland.

General Manager Stephen Jones and members of Freedom Air's operations team flew to meet the airline's newest arrival and bring it home.

"In many ways the A320 is so much more than just another aircraft for Freedom so it was great for myself and team members to actually make the journey home with her," says Jones.

"The arrival of the Airbus represents a redefining of Freedom Air in the market as we look to new challenges and opportunities. It demonstrates the confidence of our parent company, Air New Zealand, in our business and allows us to express that confidence to our passengers."

Jones says by the time Freedom Air celebrates its 10th birthday at the end of the year the airline will have a completely new fleet.

"Having a fleet of the newest aircraft in the country will go a long way to help us meet our goals of continued improved service records while we strive to maintain our ongoing commitment to low prices and flying the services and frequency our customers want."

The schedule for the new Airbus A320 sees it flying between Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin to holiday destinations including the Gold Coast and Fiji.

The new Airbus is 37.75m long with a maximum takeoff weigh of 77 tonnes - making it 17% longer and 21% heavier than the Boeing 737. However, because it is 5% more fuel efficient than the Boeing 737 the Airbus, it will use the same amount of fuel and will be able to carry more passengers. The Airbus will have a 168 seat configuration compared to 142 seats in the Boeings.

Jones says the aircraft uses "Fly by Wire" technology - an electric guidance system that facilitates smoother flights which means Freedom Air is now going through the process of training their 60 pilots and 100 cabin crew to fly and manage the new fleet.

"This is a very exciting time for the whole team and I know our pilots are really looking forward to flying this new generation aircraft."

ENDS


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