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Air NZ moves to upgrade fleet

Friday 26th September 2003

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Air New Zealand has taken the first steps toward replacement of its wide-body long-haul fleet with formal requests to Boeing and Airbus for data on available aircraft.

The carrier wants to replace its Boeing 747-400s and 767-300s over the next 10 years and is seeking the most suitable jets to operate its longer routes.

Both manufacturers have responded quickly with their top salesmen visiting Auckland in the past few weeks to make early pitches for their products.

Airbus is focusing on its high-capacity and long-range four-engined A-340-500 and ­600 jets while Boeing is pushing its 777 big twin, particularly the ­300ER which will visit Auckland during a series of global certification flights in November.

Air New Zealand's move to the long-haul replacement issue follows its new-look strategies which began last year with its fewer-frills domestic Express Class. This is to be followed next week by Tasman Express and extended to regional Pacific routes next year.

The Tasman and Pacific services will be operated by the carrier's fleet of 15 new Airbus A320 twins, the first of which was accepted by CEO Ralph Norris in Toulouse last week.

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