Air New Zealand is bolstering its domestic fleet with a second specially configured Airbus A321neo – with a unique paint job.
The aircraft touched down at Auckland International Airport last night and joins another A321neo on domestic main trunk routes.
Its first A321neo for domestic flights arrived two weeks ago, and the aircraft will add 200,000 more seats per year to the domestic network.
The new planes have 217 economy seats, about 50 more than other A320s used on domestic routes.
The A321neo is the longest-fuselage (44.5m) member of Airbus’ single-aisle A320 Family, seating 180 to 220 passengers in a typical two-class interior layout, and as many as 244 in a higher-density arrangement, Airbus says.
Airlines get substantial discounts for planes, but according to Simple Flying, list prices for A321neos range from $US118 ($188m) to about $130m ($207m).
Air New Zealand’s new aircraft will spend the next five days in the airline’s maintenance facility, before its first flight on December 3 from Auckland to Queenstown.
The A321neos will be the largest on the airline’s domestic fleet and will predominately fly between Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin.
Three more A321neos are expected to arrive next year with the final two scheduled for 2026.
The airline says this A320neo is different, sporting a one-of-a-kind look with a jet black Star Alliance livery, the first of its kind in the world.
“While Star Alliance livery is typically white with a black tail fin, Air New Zealand asked if it could do something a little different and inverse the colors in celebration of how important the color is to Air New Zealand and New Zealand.”
When the first plane arrived earlier this month, the airline’s chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty said the bigger planes were part of the focus on growing its domestic network.
The bigger planes take longer to board.
With introduction of the larger A321neo domestic aircraft, the airline will start boarding five minutes earlier and encourage customers to be at the gate ready to board at least 15 minutes before departure to ensure on-time departure.
The airline will carry around 2.8 million passengers on its network between December 15 and January 31 next year.
That follows a surge in demand for what will be the first summer holiday period since Covid restrictions eased.
During the same period last year, the airline carried just 1.1 million passengers and with the strong increase in bookings over the summer it will be operating at pre-Covid levels.