Air NZ to spend $340m on new planes
Air New Zealand is spending US$270 million ($340 million) on 12 ATR72-600 aircraft which it says will provide extra capacity on regional routes.
The first of the ATR72-600s will arrive in October next year with another in December, two in 2013 and another each year for the next three years.
The deal with ATR includes an option for another five aircraft between 2014 and 2016.
At a press conference in Auckland this afternoon, Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe said the new aircraft would add a further two million seats on regional routes annually.
"For our customers that will mean a big increase in the number of business timed seats and seriously cheap grabaseat fares we have on regional routes today."
Fyfe was confident fares would come down and employment opportunities in the aviation sector would grow from an asset purchase that he described as one of the most significant over the last ten years.
He said the ATR craft were "best in class", had improved fuel efficiency and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) technology which allowed them to land in lower cloud in places such as Queenstown.
It had not been decided how the new craft would be branded and exactly what routes they would fly, although they would probably be based in Auckland and fly to Nelson and New Plymouth to start with.
The craft are also touted as the "greenest" regional aircraft in the world with the French-Italian company's head of sales John Moore saying the ATR72-600 created 4500-less tonnes than the nearest similar-sized regional jet.
Fyfe said the Air New Zealand would invest in domestic and international marketing campaigns to encourage up-take of the new capacity.