Expat New Zealanders will get a burst of Kiwi pride when they see the new all black aircraft with its distinctive silver fern on the runway in London.
Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe said this made the extremely complex job of hand-painting the company’s newest Boeing 777-300ER worth it.
The world’s largest commercially operated plane to be painted black arrived at Auckland Airport from Seattle this morning, landing alongside a 19-seater, also painted black to match its big brother plane.
The aircraft, which carries 332 passengers, will fly the Auckland to London route.
”We have so many expats living in London. When they see this on the tarmac at Heathrow I think it will give people that sense of pride and connection with home. It’s very special.”
The Boeing 777-300ER was painted by 14 people working in shifts 24 hours a day for over a week, using 700 litres of chrome-free primer and paint.
It took a day-and-a-half to prepare and paint the aircraft black, and a further five days for the details of the silver fern and koru. The remaining time was spent on finishing touches.
”The painting team at Boeing had to mask the airline by hand and then paint the airline by hand so for them it was a very challenging job. They were very nervous.
“It took them twice as long as what it normally would take them so there was a lot of pressure on everyone to get it right.
”I took the team out to dinner in Seattle on Saturday night to pass on my personal thanks for what they did,” said Fyfe.
He said the aircraft cost about $800,000 to paint, $200,000 more than a regular paint job.
”It was coming directly off the production line and it would have been painted anyway.
”If we wanted to do our whole fleet it would cost well in excess of $10 million so at this stage is not a priority to do more black aircraft Boeing until the 787 in 2014, but there may be more 19-seaters painted black.
”We would like to keep them exclusive, if we do too many of them they lose the impact of people seeing them and being thrilled by them.”
Fyfe said the silver fern strengthened Air New Zealand’s 15-year association with the All Blacks.
”We really feel that brings to life what [New Zealand] is about. We are a small country performing in a world class level in our rugby and we like to think we are doing that as an airline.”
The plane does not attract any more heat than a white plane in the air, and any extra heat drawn to the plane on the ground is negated by air-conditioning.
Fyfe said the Boeing 777-300ER is a more fuel efficient aircraft and easier to operate overall.
– © Fairfax NZ News