Air New Zealand is adding new fuel-efficient aircraft with seating for more than 200 people to its domestic fleet as demand for domestic travel soars.
Three new domestic A321neos will arrive before the end of the year and will be used exclusively to fly around the country.
The planes will fly major trunk routes such as Auckland to Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin.
The move was revealed in the airline’s presentation to investors, as part of its recent annual results.
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The national carrier suffered a net loss of $591 million in the year to June 30, but sees a strong recovery next year.
The airline’s domestic jet fleet is currently made up of A320 aircraft, with capacity for 171 people.
The A321neo is a wide version and passengers can look forward to more fuel-efficient engines, a quieter ride and larger overhead bins.
The new domestic version will have capacity for 217 passengers, 46 more than the current A320 that fly throughout the country.
Neo stands for “new engine option” and is approximately 15% more fuel efficient than comparable models.
The A321neo was first introduced to the Air New Zealand fleet in 2018 and is used for international flights to places like Australia and the islands, although it occasionally appears on the domestic network. These planes are equipped with Wi-Fi and seatback screens for entertainment.
However, the three new A321s will be used exclusively for domestic use and will not have additional features such as WiFi.
“The new A321neos have 217 seats for our customers and similar drop-down screens to the current A320 domestic aircraft, meaning our customers still have the opportunity to watch our Air New Zealand Quiz on domestic flights,” he said. Baden Smith, General Manager of Fleet Strategy and Delivery.
The aircraft’s new seats will be similar in size to the current domestic A320, with a Space+ seating area at the front of the aircraft offering more space for frequent flyers or those paying more for seat selection.
Passengers will also enjoy a 2-inch recline.
The first new domestic A321 will arrive in September, with two more to follow later in the year. In total, the airline has seven orders.
National reserves have increased in recent months and in April returned to pre-COVID-19 levels. Domestic corporate demand has not reached 2019 levels, however an increase in leisure travel has made up for it.
International bookings are around 65-70% of pre-COVID-19 levels, with North America being the strongest long-haul route.
The airline also reported strong growth in regional flights.