Air New Zealand has taken delivery of its first ATR 72-600 aircraft, painted in the colours of the national rugby team the All Blacks.
The airline and ATR announced in October 2011 a contract for seven firm 68-seat ATR 72-600 aircraft, plus options for another five, in a deal worth more than US$270 million at book value.
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.
Air New Zealand currently has a fleet of eleven ATR 72-500 aircraft in service with its subsidiary Mount Cook. The arrival of the new fleet of ATR 72-600s will grow Mount Cook's ATR fleet and will enable the airline to further expand its domestic operations with new destinations and frequencies.
The airline will also optimize seat capacity offering on selected markets, by replacing smaller aircraft types on its regional network.
Air New Zealand has been operating ATR aircraft for nearly 20 years since the introduction of its first ATR -an ATR 72-200- in 1994.
Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe said the ATR 72-600 was a significant milestone in the airline's ongoing commitment to growing its key domestic business. “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 Fyfe.