BY JAMES WILKINSON
Air New Zealand’s sponsorship of the World Champion All Blacks has been taken to new lengths, with the airline painting a brand new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft completely black.
Two Airbus A320 have been sporting the scheme – which features a completely black fuselage, the famous silver fern emblazoned on the rear of the aircraft and the tail, along with Air New Zealand’s synonymous Koru insignia on the tail – and by mid-2012, three Beech 1900D turbo props will also be flying around with the new paint job.
“It’s a sensational looking aircraft and will really turn heads at airports around the world,” said All Blacks forward Kieran Read. “I reckon they should paint all their planes like this!”
The Boeing 777-300ER, featuring the airline’s brand new ‘Skycouch’ in Economy and revolutionary new Premium Economy seats, will be deployed on routes from Auckland to Melbourne, Los Angeles and London once delivered in late January.
“I always feel a huge amount of pride when I pull on the All Blacks jersey with the silver fern to represent my country on the rugby field and to see that replicated similarly on something this big is just awesome,” said All Blacks halfback Andy Ellis.
Following on from the 2011 Rugby World Cup, 2011 is also expected to be a big year for the sport, with Argentina joining the once-was Tri Nations to launch The Rugby Championship. As part of that, 12 games will be played between Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina, alongside four inbound tests for each team in June and a third Bledisloe Cup test.
Air New Zealand Group General Manager International Airline, Christopher Luxon, said the black jet would no doubt boost the All Blacks’ support.
“The All Black colour scheme and silver fern are a key part of both New Zealand’s and the All Blacks’ identity, so we’re excited to be able to take that iconic imagery to the world on a flying billboard that’s more than 242 feet (73.9 metres) long,” he said.
“It will certainly get people’s attention when they see it at Auckland, Los Angeles, London Heathrow and Melbourne airports over the coming year.”
To see the aircraft being painted, visit www.theflyingsocialnetwork.com