The airline will sign a memorandum of understanding today with aircraft manufacturer Boeing and engine maker Rolls-Royce to work together on projects aimed at ensuring that commercial aviation continues to become more environmentally sustainable.

The inaugural step in the relationship will be the first commercial trial of a bio fuelled, Rolls-Royce powered, Boeing aircraft toward the second half of next year/early 2009. The Boeing 747 flight, which is likely to depart Auckland and will not carry customers, will be conducted under strict safety standards.

Only one engine will run on a blended bio fuel/kerosene mix and the remaining three will be powered by regular aviation fuel. An announcement on the source and mix of the blended fuel will be made closer to the time of the flight.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe says the test flight is another step in Air New Zealand's plan to lead the global aviation industry in developing the most environmentally responsible airline practices possible and the most environmentally responsible airline.

Mr Fyfe says that as little as a year ago bio fuel seemed like "pie in the sky" to many aviation industry observers, but it is now a possibility and technology is moving so fast that it may become viable in a much shorter timeframe than previously thought.

"Air New Zealand is keen to encourage research into alternative fuels and wants to work hand-in-hand with industry partners and the New Zealand Government on promoting this type of activity. Today is a day that both the airline and country should be proud of. We are taking the first steps on what promises to be an inspiring and defining journey."

Mr Fyfe says Air New Zealand would like to progress to an all New Zealand bio fuel for future tests flights, but sourcing the quantity necessary may be a challenge in the short term.

Air New Zealand has already made significant steps towards becoming one of the world's most environmentally responsible airlines through a large fleet investment programme.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, due to come into Air New Zealand service in 2010, will save 20 per cent more fuel than similar aircraft through a combination of new technology and weight reduction.

"Along with the efficient Boeing 777s currently being flown by the airline, this will ensure Air New Zealand has one of the youngest, most technologically advanced, fuel efficient and environmentally friendly long haul fleets in the world," Mr Fyfe says.

"Our long haul fleet purchases together with initiatives underway in the area of fuel saving, weight reduction and flying techniques put Air New Zealand at the forefront of environmentally responsibilities."

ENDS

Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs tel 09 336 2761

For more information:

Tracey Palmer
Corporate Communications Manager
Tel 09 336 3179
021 628 129
tracey.palmer@airnz.co.nz

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.