"The aircraft ZK-OJA has now been painted with Air New Zealand livery which takes it a step closer to home - before that however, is the important acceptance and delivery process, which precedes the hand over of the new aircraft," explains Craig Sinclair, Air New Zealand Senior Vice President Operations & Technical.

"This one week process involves final ground checks and engine runs with an acceptance flight piloted by Air New Zealand's Chief Technical Captain, Ian Varcoe. It represents the culmination of months of intensive work across the company following the signing of the purchase agreement with Airbus in July 2002, "said Mr Sinclair.

The delivery flight from Toulouse to Auckland will take several days and be headed by two senior Air New Zealand pilots - Captain Gerry Dunn and Captain Mike Henderson - who are (respectively) the airline's A320 Fleet and A320 Training managers. Different teams of up to eight cabin crew will be on board to undergo familiarisation training (in-flight) on the new aircraft during the various sectors flown.

The aircraft touches down in Auckland at midday Sunday 21 September and commences its first commercial flight between Auckland and Sydney on 30 September.

Air New Zealand will have a total of seven A320 aircraft in service by March 2004 with the remaining A320s joining the fleet by early 2006, progressively replacing the Boeing 737 and 767 aircraft which currently operate on the airline's short haul international routes.

The A320 is well suited to Air New Zealand's needs in the Tasman and short-haul Pacific markets with new capabilities in terms of range, passenger and cargo carrying, seat and cabin configurations and in-flight service.

Air New Zealand is acquiring 15 of these aircraft between now and 2006 with purchase rights on a further 20 exercisable over the next ten years.

NOTE: The content of all Air New Zealand media releases are accurate at the time of issue, as stated at the top of each release. For updates on any changes, please contact Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is proud to be a member of Star Alliance. The Star Alliance network was established in 1997 as the first truly global airline alliance to offer worldwide reach, recognition and seamless service to the international traveller. Its acceptance by the market has been recognised by numerous awards, including the Air Transport World Market Leadership Award, Best Airline Alliance by both Business Traveller Magazine and Skytrax. The member airlines are: Adria Airways, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue1, bmi, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, United and US Airways. Aegean Airlines, Air India, Brussels Airlines and TAM have been announced as future members. Overall, the Star Alliance network offers 19,500 daily flights to 1,071 airports in 171 countries.

For more information about Air New Zealand visit www.airnewzealand.com and for more information about Star Alliance visit www.staralliance.com.