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Qantas Welcomes New Aircraft on Tasman Route

Wellington, 08 February 2011

Qantas today welcomed a new Boeing 737-800 aircraft into service and announced it would be named in honour of Sir Edmund Hillary, New Zealand mountaineer and explorer.

A further two new aircraft will join the fleet this month and will be officially named in honour of Abel Tasman, who was the first European to discover the south island of New Zealand, and William Pickering, a New Zealander who made a significant contribution to space exploration.

Qantas Regional General Manager New Zealand, Mr Grant Lilly said the new aircraft would operate on the Wellington - Australia route, providing a new level of comfort for customers.

"Wellington is an important market for Qantas for both business and leisure travellers and we are delighted to bring our 737-800 product here.

"These new aircraft will join our 737-800 flagship fleet on trans-Tasman flights and it is a privilege to name this aircraft after such an iconic history maker as Sir Edmund Hillary who pushed the boundaries of human endurance and achievement.

"I'm delighted that Sir Hillary's son Peter Hillary and first great grandchild Felix have joined us to celebrate and represent the late explorer.

Mr Lilly said the new aircraft would showcase the best of modern onboard technology and design with Marc Newson-designed seating and a state-of-the-art on-demand Panasonic in-flight entertainment.

Wellington International Airport, CEO, Mr Steven Fitzgerald said, "We are thrilled about the arrival of Qantas' new 737-800. Qantas has had a long relationship with Wellington dating back to 1961 bringing both tourists and business travellers across the Tasman, and it is great to see the airline continue to improve the service they provide.

"Wellingtonians are choosing to fly direct from their airport in greater numbers than ever before and the availability of services on some of the most modern and advanced aircraft in the world can only add to the attractiveness," Mr Fitzgerald said.

"We wish Qantas every success and are looking forward to working with them to grow the services offered to the Wellington region."

Features of the new 737-800 aircraft include:

* A 12 seat business class and 156 seat economy class configuration
* New seating design styled by Marc Newson
* On-demand Panasonic inflight entertainment in both cabins with over 300 entertainment options
* Seat-to-seat "chat" messaging
* Wide seat-back design with a 37 inch seat pitch and 22 inch width between arms in Business and a 17 inch width and 30 inch seat pitch in economy, ergonomic cushions and adjustable headrest
* 10.6 inch in arm touch screen in business
* Nine inch seatback touch screen in economy
* PC and USB ports in both business and economy to facilitate computers, MP3 players and other technology.

The Qantas B737-800 fleet will fly Auckland-Sydney, Auckland-Melbourne, Wellington-Sydney and Wellington Melbourne. From March the aircraft will fly on the Christchurch-Sydney route.

Qantas also announced today extra capacity across the trans-Taman to meet demand for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Mr Lilly said the arrival of these new aircraft had come at an ideal time as Qantas added extra flights and seats from 6 September- 24 October to manage the increased number of visitors.

"Qantas will offer an additional six flights as well as upgrading 737-800 services to A330-200 services between Sydney and New Zealand," he said.

The New Zealand 2011 Rugby World Cup is held throughout New Zealand from 9 September - 23 October.

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (5072)
Email: qantasmedia@qantas.com.au