Air New Zealand has signed a deal to purchase 13 next generation Airbus A320s in a move that will cut its fuel use by up to 15 per cent on its trans-Tasman and Pacific Islands flights.
The aircraft, with a list price of $NZ1.6 billion, will replace its current fleet of 13 international short-haul A320s. The A320neo, or “new engine options”, have more fuel efficient engines and sharklet wing tip devices to assist in lower operating costs.
The first A320neo is due in late 2017, with the remainder of the aircraft to be delivered at intervals until 2019.
A minimum of three of the aircraft will be the largest A321neo, which has 38 more seats than the planes Air NZ currently operates on trans-Tasman routes.
Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said the new order would ensure his airline continued to operate one of the world’s youngest fleets.
“This new fleet will further enhance the experience for our customers and will drive fuel efficiency enabling us to minimise our carbon footprint by saving around 3,600 tonnes of CO2 per aircraft per year,” he said after announcing the order on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association annual meeting in Doha, Qatar.
Luxon said this order confirmed Air NZ had decided to operate an Airbus narrow body fleet to bring efficiences in training, maintenance and operating costs. It is phasing out its ageing 737-300s, and as part of the latest order, it will also add a single older generation A320 to its domestic fleet by early 2015.
Air NZ, which is the largest shareholder in Virgin Australia Holdings, operates a trans-Tasman alliance with the Australian carrier. The pair, which have a combined market share of 55 per cent on trans-Tasman routes, compete against a separate alliance comprised of Qantas Airways, Emirates and Jetstar.
Jetstar operates A320s on trans-Tasman routes in addition to its domestic Australian operations.
Jetstar has A320neos on order but the number and delivery date is unclear after Qantas restructured its order book in February as part of broader cost-cutting measures.
Airbus is targeting the first A320neo delivery in 2015.