Air New Zealand has taken delivery of its first ATR 72-600, which is painted in a striking all-black livery featuring New Zealand’s national fern emblem, as part of the airline’s support for New Zealand’s famous national rugby union team, the All Blacks.
The airline and ATR announced in October 2011 a firm contract for seven 68-seat ATR 72-600 turboprops, plus options for another five, in a deal which ATR values at more than $270 million.
Delivery of the first ATR 72-600 for Air New Zealand was witnessed by the former All Blacks rugby player Luke McAllister. Deliveries of the seven firm ATR 72-600s are due to be completed in 2016.
This first ATR 72-600, configured with 68 seats, is scheduled to enter service early in November, with a first flight between Christchurch and Wellington. The new aircraft features ATR’s new Armonia cabin interior, with improved seating and larger overhead luggage bins.
Air New Zealand currently has a fleet of 11 ATR 72-500 turboprops in service with its subsidiary Mount Cook Airline.
The new fleet of ATR 72-600 regional airliners will grow Mount Cook’s ATR fleet and will enable the airline to further expand its domestic operations with new destinations and frequencies, according to ATR.
Mount Cook Airline will also use its ATR 72-600s to optimize seat capacity in selected markets, by replacing smaller aircraft types on its regional network.
“The ATR 72-600 order potentially doubles the size of Air New Zealand’s ATR fleet and will put two million additional regional seats into the market,” said Rob Fyfe, Air New Zealand’s chief executive officer.
“The first new aircraft will enter Mount Cook’s fleet in mid-November and over time these new additions to the fleet will enable the airline to further expand its domestic operations with increased frequency, extra capacity and to service new ports,” remarked Sarah Williamson, general manager of Air New Zealand’s subsidiary Mount Cook Airline.
“We are both delighted and proud that Air New Zealand, a long-term customer of ATR, has again selected our aircraft as an integral part of its regional growth strategy,” said Filippo Bagnato, chief executive officer of ATR. “Almost 20 years ago, Air New Zealand was one of the first airlines in the southwest Pacific region to introduce ATR airliners into its fleet, and now it is among the first in the region to fly the series 600.”
Bagnato added: “The ATR 72-600 is the most fuel-efficient regional aircraft in the 50-70 seat market. It is also the greenest, emitting less CO2 and making less noise than any comparable aircraft in the market today.
Air New Zealand carries more than 13 million passengers to, from and within New Zealand each year. With an operating fleet of more than 100 aircraft, the airline connects customers to 28 domestic New Zealand cities and 28 destinations in Asia, Europe, Australia, North America and the Pacific Islands.