Air New Zealand has taken delivery of its first ever Airbus aircraft, a new A320, beginning a new era. The aircraft, which is leased from ILFC, is the first of 15 A320 family aircraft being acquired through a mix of purchases and leases.

Air New Zealand will initially use its Airbus A320s on trans-Tasman routes to Australia and, later, on services to South Pacific islands. The aircraft seat eight passengers in business class and 138 in economy, and are powered by International Aero Engines V2500s.

Air New Zealand Managing Director and CEO Ralph Norris took delivery of the Airbus A320 from Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer NoŽl Forgeard, at a ceremony in Toulouse attended by ILFC Chairman Steve Udvar-Hazy.

"Our challenge is to provide passengers with attractive airfares as well as a comfortable ride and friendly service," says Ralph Norris, "and that is exactly what our modern A320 fleet, with its operational efficiencies and spacious cabin interior will help us to provide."

"Air New Zealand is one of our earliest and most valued customers, while Airbus A320 Family aircraft are among the most successful in our portfolio, which makes for a great start to this partnership," says ILFC Chairman and CEO Steve Udvar-Hazy.

"With some 240 customers and operators of Airbus aircraft around the world, it is not every day that we add a new one, especially one as prestigious as Air New Zealand, which makes this a very special occasion for us," says NoŽl Forgeard.

The Airbus A320 family is the most modern and successful in its class, with the best fuel efficiency, the lowest maintenance costs, and the widest cabin. It is the preferred choice of both full-service and low-cost airlines, as well as enjoying a consistent lead in independent passenger and operator surveys. Thanks to their fly-by-wire flight controls the aircraft offer full operational commonality with other members of the Airbus aircraft family.

Air New Zealandís A320s join a strong Airbus presence in the Pacific, where the companyís aircraft underpin virtually all fleet modernisations in the region.

Firm orders for the Airbus A320 family stand at over 3,000 - more than 2,000 of which have been delivered to date, making it the fastest-selling airliner range of all time. The A320 family has won more than 140 customers and operators throughout the world, pleasing passengers and airlines in every continent.

Airbus is a joint EADS Company with BAE SYSTEMS.