Air New Zealand's representative on the Board of the Christchurch Engine Centre, Trevor Hughes said the Board was delighted to see the construction completed and the facility operational.

"This is a day to celebrate - twelve months ago, in December last year, this was simply a green field site and now we have a state of the art engine shop and test cell. It is a credit to all who have worked on the project with us.

"The Board also acknowledge the substantial investment made by the Christchurch City Council and the Christchurch Airport Authority in funding the (respective) development of the engine test cell and overhaul facility, said Mr Hughes.

Pratt & Whitney Senior Vice President and General Manager (Aftermarket) Jim Keenan said the facility and its capability of overhauling V2500 engines that power aircraft around the world will be marketed to other airline operators, in particular those within the Asia Pacific region.

"The establishment of the V2500 operation should secure the Centre's future. We intend to grow the V2500 business as we have done with the JT8D engine overhaul work which we used to do largely from our facility in Columbus, Georgia," said Mr Keenan, who also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for both Christchurch Engine Centre Joint Ventures.

The V2500 project was initiated by the JV following Air New Zealand's selection of International Aero Engine (IAE) V2500 to power its new Airbus A320 aircraft.

Originally an Air New Zealand maintenance facility, the Christchurch Engine Centre was established as a joint venture with Pratt & Whitney by Air New Zealand in April 2001 and is governed by a separate Board with representatives from both companies.

The Centre has operated successfully as an overhaul facility for Pratt & Whitney JT8D and Rolls Royce Dart engines. In December 2002, the expansion of the Centre was announced with the development of an additional facility for International Aero Engine (IAE) V2500 engines.

Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies company (NYSE:UTX), is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines.

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.