Passing with flying colours

22:35, Nov 12 2012
Air New Zealand ATR72-600
JET BLACK: Andrew Ward, flight operations manager for Mt Cook Airline, with the first ATR72-600 aircraft at Nelson Airport..

Nelsonians with their eyes on the skies at 10am today might have spotted a black aircraft on approach.

The latest addition to the Air New Zealand fleet, the ATR72-600 made whirlwind visit to Nelson as it flew around the country showing off its "all black" livery.

The aircraft is the first of Air New Zealand's new generation ATR72-600 fleet from Toulouse, France, and will be operated by Mount Cook Airlines - an Air New Zealand Link operator.

Air NZ announced a year ago it was buying seven new- generation ATR72-600 aircraft with purchase options for a further five worth a total of US$270 million (NZ$340m). It will double its current ATR fleet and add a further two million seats to the New Zealand regional market annually.

Nelson and New Plymouth are high on the list for the first two planes, scheduled to arrive from now. The rest would be delivered progressively by 2016.

Air Nelson general manager Grant Kerr said increased frequency of services in and out of Nelson as a result of the fleet expansion had the potential to reduce travelling costs.