At Boeing's Everett, Seattle premises today, Air New Zealand takes delivery of its new B777-200ER aircraft, registration ZK-OKA, the first of eight ordered by the airline.
The aircraft will arrive in Auckland on Saturday morning (29 October) and undertake a commemorative flyby over the city and local landmarks prior to landing at Auckland International Airport at 11.00 am.
The airline's second B777 aircraft is also nearing completion at the same facility and is expected to be delivered in less than two weeks on 8 November.
Air New Zealand's Chief Executive Officer, Rob Fyfe, who is in Seattle for the delivery, says the new Boeing aircraft will provide the airline with new capabilities for its long-haul operations.
"We look forward to first introducing these aircraft onto our Auckland-San Francisco route from late November and increasing services to six times per week.
"In addition, the 777s will move onto our daily Auckland-Singapore services, some trans-Tasman flights at peak times and a variety of other routes as each new aircraft is introduced over the next year.
"These aircraft are also enabling us to look at new markets, with our recent application to commence non-stop services between Auckland and Shanghai an indication of our growth plans for the airline."
The first B777-200ER is being leased from International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), with the second and third aircraft to be owned outright by Air New Zealand.
In total, four of the new 313 seat B777-200 ER aircraft will be purchased and four leased from ILFC. The purchase cost of the four aircraft and the necessary infrastructure to maintain the fleet of eight is in excess of NZ$1-billion.
All the aircraft will be powered by Rolls Royce Trent 800 series engines.
"These eight new aircraft will gradually replace many of our B767-300s and also enable us to grow the international fleet," says Mr Fyfe.
"In addition, earlier this week we announced that we are doubling our B787 order and purchasing two more B787-8s, with delivery of all four expected in 2010 and 2011. With the progressive expansion and improvement of our international fleet we can plan well ahead to meet the needs of our future customers."
Air New Zealand's long-haul fleet currently comprises of nine Boeing 767-300s and eight Boeing 747-400s. By early 2007 the fleet composition is expected to be eight B777-200ERs, eight B747-400s and five B767-300s, as leased aircraft will be returned as contracts expire.
To put this into a passenger context, Air New Zealand's long-haul fleet currently consists of 5,251 available seats across 17 aircraft.
By early 2007, the fleet will consist of 6,826 available seats across 21 aircraft, representing a nearly 30% increase in long-haul seats.
The interior for the new B777s mirror the new product being fitted into the airline's fleet of eight B747 aircraft, and includes mood lighting throughout the premium cabins.
The new interior is configured in a three class layout of Business Premier, Pacific Premium Economy and Pacific Economy.
Seating for 26 in Business Premier is in a unique herringbone configuration, the first such time these seats and this configuration have been used in a B777.
The innovative seating design in Business Premier includes a comfortable, 22" wide leather armchair that converts into a 6ft 7.5" (2.02m) bed, the longest available in business class today. The seats also make Air New Zealand the only airline to currently offer a truly lie-flat bed at a business class price into and out of New Zealand. Other features include an ottoman footrest that doubles as a visitor's seat, in-seat power, a high resolution 10.4" screen to view the on-demand digital entertainment system and active noise-cancellation headsets.
Pacific Premium Economy
Eighteen Pacific Premium Economy seats in two rows of a 3-3-3 configuration are situated immediately behind Business Premier in a dedicated cabin.
The seats feature the largest pitch in its class at 39" in the 777, together with on-demand digital entertainment through a personal 8.4" high resolution screen.
The new class makes Air New Zealand the only airline to be offering premium economy seating on services to and from New Zealand.
Pacific Economy seating is in two cabins of 153 seats and 116 seats respectively, with a row configuration of 3-3-3.
Seats include on-demand digital entertainment through high resolution 8.4" in-seat video screens. The seat, designed by well known seat manufacturer Recaro, includes a slim-line shape, memory foam cushioning to shape to the passenger and a flexible seat edge for extra comfort.
A media advisory outlining the aircraft's flight path and timings for flyby over Auckland will be forwarded to Auckland–based media tomorrow, Friday 28 October.
Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs: ph +64 9 336 2761
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.