Air New Zealand (NZ, Auckland Int'l) has signed a firm order agreement with Avions de Transport Régional (Toulouse Blagnac) for fifteen ATR72-600s deliveries of which are scheduled to commence from late-2016.

The carrier said that of the fifteen, four will be used to bolster regional growth while the remaining eleven will replace existing ATR72-500s in service with its Mount Cook Airline (NZM, Christchurch) subsidiary as Air New Zealand Link.

“The extra four 68-seat ATR72-600 that we are adding to our fleet will enable us to operate up to an additional 600,000 seats into the New Zealand regional market annually," CEO Christopher Luxon said.

The airline, which ordered seven ATR72-600s in 2011, has already exercised all of its five options and has also converted two purchase rights into firm orders. With the arrival of all the firm aircraft, Air New Zealand will operate the world's third largest fleet of ATR aircraft with a total of twenty-nine ATR72-600s.

In addition to the ATRs, Air New Zealand also operates ten Beech 1900Ds (with Eagle Airways (Hamilton)) and twenty-three Dash 8-300s (with Air Nelson (NZ, Nelson)).