Air New Zealand eyes cargo growth

Air New Zealand eyes cargo growth

Air New Zealand said it had signed $1.3 billion in agreements to buy or lease eight long-haul Boeing 777 planes and two new generation Boeing 7E7 aircraft as well as rights to purchase a further 42 long-haul aircraft.

"Air New Zealand's decision to secure rights to purchase a further 42 aircraft reflects the airline's belief in the potential to expand its passenger and cargo business into new long haul destinations and increase traffic from existing core routes," the airline said in a statement.

The new aircraft will fly the Singapore, Hong Kong, Hawaii, Japan and Los Angeles routes.

Four of the 777-200 aircraft will be purchased and the other four leased from International Lease Finance, a unit of American International Group, the airline said.

The eight Boeing 777-200 ER aircraft will begin entering service in September 2005, with the first five expected to be delivered by April 2006, Air NZ said. The final three aircraft will be introduced in the last half of 2006.

The delivery date for the two 7E7 aircraft, which will be capable of carrying approximately 230 passengers, is still to be determined, the carrier said.

Air New Zealand's long haul fleet currently comprises 10 767s and eight 747s.

By early 2007 the fleet composition is expected to be eight 777-200ERs, seven 747s and five 767s, as leased aircraft will be returned as contracts expire.