Air New Zealand's first Airbus A320 aircraft entered its natural habitat on a sunny morning in Toulouse last Friday when it left the factory and took to the skies with an Airbus crew of two pilots and one flight test engineer who took the aircraft ZK-OJA on a three hour test flight.

Air New Zealand Senior Vice President Operations & Technical, Craig Sinclair said that the flight went well with some minimal routine adjustments required and was only the first in a series of tests the aircraft would undergo.

"The aircraft flew to Hamburg this morning for the fit out of its interior which will take approximately three weeks. This flight and the return journey to Toulouse will also be opportunities for Airbus crew to undertake functional checks of the aircraft," said Mr Sinclair.

On its return to Toulouse in mid-August, ZK-OJA will commence an extensive "acceptance process" explained Mr Sinclair.

A series of in-flight and on the ground checks by Airbus will complete the manufacturer's rigorous internal testing programme. This will be followed by a further series of tests conducted by Air New Zealand crew and engineers prior to transfer of title to the airline.

The official date for hand over and delivery of the first A320 aircraft is yet to be advised by Airbus but is expected to be in mid September 2003.

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.