It’s the end of an era as the last of Air New Zealand’s aircraft in teal blue livery undergo a refresh. The eight remaining Q300 aircraft will soon be sporting the airline’s iconic black and white look and will be sent to Blenheim for their transformation.
They are the only aircraft in Air New Zealand’s entire fleet that remain in the teal Pacific Wave livery that was donned within the early 2000s. The teal livery and colour was a nod to the airline’s 80 plus years of history, starting with the creation of what was then Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL) and now has become Air New Zealand.
Over the next four months, the aircraft will go through a strip and repaint process led by the airline’s Engineering and Maintenance teams and supported by Airbus in New Zealand, at their facilities in Blenheim.
Air New Zealand’s Group General Manager of Engineering and Maintenance Brett Daley says the Airbus facility is normally used to repaint military planes, but provides the perfect location to repaint these smaller turboprop aircraft. “We’re really excited about this opportunity to work with Airbus on the repainting of these planes which help connect our customers to the regions – from Hokitika, Gisborne, Napier, Rotorua, Whangarei and beyond. It’s fantastic to have the capability to do this in our own backyard. It is the first time the aircraft have been fully stripped and repainted in New Zealand and Air New Zealand has used these facilities. The aircraft were previously painted off-shore in Australia.”
He says the repainting process is a complex one, taking a total of 14 full days for the transformation. “There’s a lot of work involved, and our teams do an amazing job from start to finish, stripping off the existing paint, repainting, refinishing and then reweighing before the aircraft is ready to leave the hangar.”
Three aircraft have already been through the process, with work underway on the fourth in the coming weeks. The eight aircraft are due to all be painted and ready for service by July, in time to help get customers to they need to go during the busy school holiday period.
“The black and white livery is distinctive, and I think inspires a sense of pride in New Zealanders. Whenever you see the mangōpare on the livery, you can’t help but feel a sense of home,” Daley says. “Black is also an iconic Kiwi colour, the colour of the sports jerseys we wear with pride and part of our national identity, so it will be fantastic to welcome these aircraft with their updated livery back into our fleet.”
The airline’s Fleet Project Leader for Turboprop Robert Cox says he feels proud to see the aircraft roll out of the hangar in their fresh livery. “I’ve been working for Air New Zealand for over ten years and I remember the day the black and white livery came out,” he says. “I think it’s a really welcoming feeling, no matter where you are in the world, to see the Air New Zealand tail with the Koru. You know you’re going to get that great service and have that peace of mind that you’re in good hands.”
The Q300 aircraft can seat 50 passengers and are used on Air New Zealand’s regional network. The airline has a total of 23 Q300 and 29 ATR – 72 in its turboprop fleet.