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First of four Airbus delivered from Toulouse

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 30, 2011) – Air New Zealand’s new all-black A320 plane for domestic routes is about to set off on its three-day delivery flight to New Zealand, island-hopping across the Pacific and in Auckland early this week.

In a route similar to earlier days when international aircraft did not have long-range fuel tanks, they usually stop over in Gander, Canada, Denver, Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Samoa on their way to Auckland.

Today in Los Angeles, [the new aircraft]will be showcased to aviation enthusiasts at the LAX airport, during the flight’s layover.

The aircraft - painted black with a silver fern to mark the airline’s sponsorship of the All Blacks team - was recently flown from the Airbus manufacturing facility in Toulouse, France, to Hamburg, Germany, for a fit-out of the cabin interior.

The ZK-OAB registration is the only Air NZ A320 to be painted black.

Air New Zealand has 14 of the 171-seat aircraft on order, and this first one will be brought onto domestic routes from early February.

Another three will be delivered this year and the remaining 10 progressively through until 2016, coinciding with the expiry of leases for Boeing 737-300.

The airline has said that the larger aircraft will let it boost domestic jet capacity by nearly 30 percent. The current 737 fleet is configured with 133 seats.

A test flight before an earlier A320 delivery, from Perpignan 200 kilometers east of Toulouse to Germany killed five New Zealanders and the two German pilots in November 2008, after a combination of pilot error and faulty sensors caused it to crash into the Mediterranean.

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