ir New Zealand is using its newest aircraft type to significantly boost the number of seats between Auckland and popular Australian holiday destination the Gold Coast as it joins battle with former alliance partner Virgin Australia on trans-Tasman routes.
The Kiwi carrier will introduce the new A321neo to the route and add a new Monday service from February 2019 to boost the number of available seats by almost 60 percent.
This will see the bigger, fuel-efficient aircraft fly the return services on the route Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The A321neo has 214 seats, 46 more than its current international A320s, and Air New Zealand chief revenue officer Cam Wallace predicted its introduction would be a boon for holidaymakers.
“The Gold Coast is a popular destination for Kiwi tourists and Australia is New Zealand’s largest source of inbound visitors, so it’s fantastic to be able to increase capacity to meet this demand,” he said.
The first A321neo arrived in Auckland last week and is the first of 13 Airbus neo aircraft to enter the fleet in the next year.
It is expected to enter commercial service on November 23, operating flight NZ739 from Auckland to Brisbane.
A second A321neo is also expected to enter service in the coming weeks with others following at intervals until late 2019.
The new fleet will ultimately replace A320s that currently operating Tasman and Pacific Island services.
The alliance between Virgin and Air New Zealand ended last month after the Kiwi carrier decided to hop into bed with Qantas.
The decision to end the partnership means Qantas, Virgin and Air New Zealand compete across the Tasman but AirNZ and the flying kangaroo codeshare on domestic routes in Australia and New Zealand.
Virgin has boosted its in-flight product, launched new services and added to others to better compete against the other two airlines
Virgin chief executive John Borghetti told the airline’s recent annual meeting that the split was proving a positive and bookings on trans-Tasman routes were flourishing.