Air New Zealand Ltd., the nation’s largest airline, will acquire 14 new Airbus A320 aircraft to replace Boeing 737-300 jets currently used on domestic routes.
The airline has purchase rights for a further 11 A320s, it said in a statement. The aircraft are worth $1 billion but Air New Zealand bought the planes at an undisclosed discount “that reflects current market conditions,” it said.
Air New Zealand has been reviewing its domestic jet fleet to improve fuel efficiency and increase capacity on routes between the nation’s largest cities. It already operates the larger A320 aircraft on routes to Australia and the Pacific Islands, and expects to save costs in maintenance and fleet management, it said.
“This is a very good time to buy aircraft,” said Bruce Parton, group general manager, short-haul. “The industry is at the bottom of a deep cycle so demand for aircraft is limited, creating favorable conditions for buyers with strong balance sheets.”
The first A320 will arrive in January 2011 and the remainder will be progressively introduced through to 2016. The new aircraft will be powered by an advanced version of the International Aero Engines V2500 engine.
The new aircraft will carry about 170 passengers, up from 133 in the existing 737 fleet.