"The opportunity to support Fashion Week was a natural fit for the national airline to help promote this aspect of contemporary New Zealand culture to the world," said Air New Zealand Managing Director Ralph Norris.

"Air New Zealand invests NZ$70 million offshore annually to promote New Zealand and drive tourism to this country, and we look forward to utilising some of that investment to help further raise Air New Zealand Fashion Week's profile on the international stage.

"Both organisations work incredibly hard to promote the best of New Zealand internationally and together we plan to give New Zealand fashion an even stronger profile."

The naming rights sponsorship enables Air New Zealand to promote the association and market the relationship throughout the world, together with a range of branding, advertising and hospitality rights. The airline will also be the official carrier of all VIP guests travelling to the event.

"As the major sponsor, our key focus will be on using Air New Zealand Fashion Week as a vehicle to promote this country as a unique and interesting tourism destination. We will bring international media to New Zealand for Air New Zealand Fashion Week and promote New Zealand fashion to the ten million passengers who travel with us each year," said Mr Norris.

"The confirmation of Air New Zealand as naming rights sponsor is the best of all possible scenarios for the ongoing development of the event as an international showcase for the most exciting New Zealand fashion," said Air New Zealand Fashion Week Managing Director Pieter Stewart.

"This support and endorsement from a leading New Zealand company adds to our credibility as a vitally important export driver for New Zealand and reaffirms to our designers, sponsors and key partners that the event is poised for even bigger things on the world stage."

Air New Zealand Fashion Week will take place over four days from October 18 to 21 this year, at a new venue, Auckland's Viaduct Harbour.

Air New Zealand Fashion Week is the highlight of the New Zealand fashion calendar, with the country's top designers coming together to showcase their latest collections to local and international buyers, media and guests.

Since its first year in 2001 when 43 labels showed and buyers from five countries attended, the collections have grown to 50 labels on show in 2003 for around 200 buyers from 12 countries.

The sponsorship adds to Air New Zealand's naming rights of some of the nation's premiere events. These include the Air New Zealand Wine Awards, the Air New Zealand NPC and now Air New Zealand Fashion Week. Its other major sponsorships include the Lord of the Rings, the official airline of the All Blacks and the New Zealand Olympic Teams, Montana World of Wearable Art and Te Papa. The airline also has a strong food and wine programme utilising top New Zealand chefs and wine makers for its in-flight menu.

"Air New Zealand is already closely aligned with the best of New Zealand food and wine, sport, and kiwi innovation. This is a further opportunity for us to partner with another great aspect of New Zealand culture - fashion," said Mr Norris.

"The partnership is timely as the airline embarks on the remodel of its business. As part of this activity we're currently in the midst of our own fashion makeover. On Monday we look forward to announcing which New Zealand fashion designer is creating our new staff uniforms.

"These new uniforms, which will be worn by more than 3,000 of our cabin crew, pilots, frontline ground staff and Travelcentre staff will replace those designed more than a decade ago in 1992," said Mr Norris.

Further details of Air New Zealand Fashion Week activity will be announced over the coming months including details of more public opportunities to enjoy the 2004 collections.

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.