The aircraft is the first of its kind for Air New Zealand which has a total of seven on order with options to purchase a further five for a total list price of US$270 million.
Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe says the aircraft hand over, which took place overnight New Zealand time, is a significant milestone in the airline’s ongoing commitment to growing the key domestic sector.
“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,” says Mr Fyfe.
“The investment in these aircraft, along with a considerable outlay in purchasing both Bombardier Q300 and Airbus A320 aircraft for the domestic fleet, comes during a period when other businesses have shied away from significant investment in assets.”
“We firmly believe in the importance of the domestic market and the long-term strength of the New Zealand economy”
The first ATR 72-600 aircraft will enter Air New Zealand subsidiary Mount Cook’s fleet in mid November. Mount Cook General Manager Sarah Williamson says the new ATRs will allow the airline to further expand its domestic operations with increased frequency and extra capacity as well as to service new ports.
“This first aircraft will service Nelson and New Plymouth in addition to the ports where the ATR 72-500 currently flies. Nelson and New Plymouth have both demonstrated recent growth and we’re responding by upgrading some services to the larger ATR aircraft.”
“The flow-on effect of having additional ATR aircraft in Air New Zealand’s domestic fleet means we will have the flexibility to up-gauge some Bombardier Q300 and Beech operated routes, as more capacity is required over the coming years, and further stimulate demand in these regions.”
The new-generation ATR 72-600 is the most efficient aircraft in its class and features a new cabin layout in Air New Zealand’s latest interior colour palette of chalk and ink, larger overhead bins, and advanced cockpit technology.
The new aircraft will enter service for Mt Cook in mid November.