This morning Air New Zealand announced that the eight remaining aircraft carrying the iconic Teal Blue livery are getting a new coat of paint. Aviation enthusiasts and planespotters have until July to catch a last glimpse, or photo, of an Air New Zealand aircraft carrying the livery.

The end of a blue era

In what Air New Zealand describes as the end of an era, the eight remaining De Havilland Dash 8 Q300s with the Blue Wave color scheme are going into the paint shop. The eight turboprops will all emerge sporting the current black and white livery and be ready for service by July, ending the Teal Blue era that started in the early 2000s.

Apart from being easy on the eye and distinctive at airports, the teal livery respected the airline's history, starting with its creation in 1940 as Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL) and later becoming Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand Teal
Photo: Air New Zealand

The Q300s are the oldest aircraft in the airline's fleet and, at an average age of nearly 17 years old, are slated for replacement, with the airline looking for emission-free aircraft to replace them. Repainting them will not be cheap, so it's an interesting move by Air New Zealand (ANZ), who must see some life left in the workhorses for years to come.

Airbus is helping out with the paint job

The project will be under the control of ANZ's Engineering and Maintenance teams, supported by Airbus New Zealand at their facilities in Blenheim on the South Island of New Zealand.

Air New Zealand Q300_AIRNZ00012
Photo: Air New Zealand

The Airbus shop is mainly used to paint military aircraft, but ANZ Group General Manager of Engineering and Maintenance Brett Daley says it provides the perfect location to repaint the turboprops.

"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. 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."

Air New Zealand Q300_AIRNZ00007
Photo: Air New Zealand

Each aircraft takes around fourteen days, including stripping off the existing paint, repainting in the black and white livery, refinishing and reweighing before the aircraft can leave the hangar and return to service. Three of the Dash 8s have been completed, and the fourth will be in the workshop in the coming weeks.

Black and white works well in NZ

If New Zealand has a national color it must surely be black, despite all the natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes this nation contains. Many of the national sporting teams, particularly the All Blacks rugby team, carry black themes, including the Tall Blacks (basketball), Black Caps (cricket), Black Ferns (women's rugby), Black Sticks (women's hockey) and Black Jacks (lawn bowls).

Air New Zealand Q300 New Livery AIRNZ00006
Photo: Air New Zealand

For some reason, the New Zealand football (soccer) team is called the All Whites, although they wear an all-black strip when they play away from home. So a black and white livery sits well with the landscape, which is something Daley agrees with:

"The black and white livery is distinctive, and I think inspires a sense of pride in New Zealanders. Whenever you see the mangopare [hammerhead shark motif] on the livery, you can't help but feel a sense of home. It will be fantastic to welcome these aircraft with their updated livery back into our fleet."

With its regional network including many short-haul routes, Air New Zealand relies heavily on its fleet of De Haviland and ATR turboprops. The airline has 23 De Havilland DHC-8-Q300s, which seat 50 passengers and 29 larger capacity ATR72-600s with 68 seats.

Will you miss the Blue Wave livery? Let us know in the comments.

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    Air New Zealand
    IATA/ICAO Code:
    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier
    Auckland Airport, Christchurch Airport, Wellington Airport
    Year Founded:
    Star Alliance
    Greg Foran
    New Zealand