Qantas' New Trans-Tasman Fleet to Honour New Zealand Icons

Auckland, 22 September 2009

Qantas today officially welcomed the first of its new Boeing 737-800 aircraft into service, and announced that it would be named in honour of pioneer aviatrix Jean Batten.

The following two new aircraft in the trans-Tasman fleet will be named after iconic New Zealanders Sir William Hudson and Katherine Mansfield.

Qantas Regional General Manager New Zealand, Mr Grant Lilly, said Qantas will have three of the new aircraft flying trans-Tasman routes by mid-October, with the remainder to arrive by 2011.

"These new aircraft will become the flagship of our trans-Tasman fleet. They are New Zealand registered and based, and will be operated by New Zealand based pilots and cabin crew. We believe it is only fitting to recognise this by naming these aircraft after three truly great New Zealanders, who, in their individual fields, cemented strong links between Australia and New Zealand," he said.

"These pioneers also sought to bring the unique culture of New Zealand to the world, and for us here at Qantas, we like to think we also play a part in this. It is undeniable that Jean Batten, Sir William Hudson and Katherine Mansfield, were pioneers in exporting New Zealand skills and culture on a global scale."

Mr Lilly said it was a privilege for him to present a plaque to relatives of both Jean Batten and Sir William Hudson, and representatives of Auckland's Katherine Mansfield Society, commemorating the naming of the first three aircraft.

"We have twenty-two relatives of the late Jean Batten here today as part of this celebration, and also the daughter and grandson of the late Sir William Hudson, and a representative of the Katherine Mansfield Society here in Auckland who have taken up the very important cause of ensuring one of our greatest writers receives the recognition she deserves, both here and abroad.

"Aircraft have come a very long way since Jean Batten broke her records, and we are confident that our new fleet will showcase the best of modern onboard technology and design."

He added that some of the features of the new aircraft include:

* A 12-seat Business class and 156-seat Economy configuration
* Individual state-of-the-art Panasonic Inflight Entertainment on Demand system in both Business and Economy with over 300 entertainment options
* 10.6 inch in arm touch screen in Business
* 9 inch seatback touch screen in Economy
* Marc Newson styled seating design with a 22 inch width and 37 inch seat pitch in Business and a 17 inch width and 30 inch seat pitch in Economy, ergonomic cushions and adjustable headrest; and
* PC and USB ports in both Business and Economy to facilitate computers, MP3 players and other technology.

The Qantas B737-800 will initially fly on Auckland-Sydney and Auckland-Melbourne routes.

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (3957)