Air New Zealand's first Airbus A321 NEO prepares for take-off

Air New Zealand's newest aircraft is in the final stages of preparation before it joins the airline's fleet in November.

Tickets for the first flight on the new Airbus A321 'NEO' - which stands for new engine option - have gone on sale today.

Its arrival will be the first of 13 new Airbus aircraft entering Air NZ's fleet over the next few years.

The airline has placed an order worth $2.8 billion with Airbus for a mixture of A321 NEOs and A320 NEOs.

The A321 can carry 214 passengers - 46 more than the airline's current A320 fleet.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says the aircraft's arrival marks the beginning of a new strategy for the airline's short haul operations.

"Australia and the Pacific Islands are a vitally important part of our Pacific Rim network," he says.

"We operate up to 240 services each week with our Airbus narrow body aircraft. These new aircraft are key to enabling us to grow our short haul network while offering our customers a great inflight experience."

Not only are the aircraft longer, but the seats are wider too. The new leather upholstered interior has seats ranging from 1-3cm wider than current sizes.

The new aircraft will also come with a new Andriod-based entertainment system, larger 10 inch screens and wi-fi capability. 

"We extensively tested and refined the neo inflight experience with customers to ensure we could incorporate their feedback while meeting regulatory and operating requirements and we're confident we've delivered an inflight experience our customers are going to enjoy," Mr Luxon said.

The NEO engines and 'sharklet' wingtips will help provide 15 percent more fuel efficiency. 

The airline's second A321 NEO is expected to arrive soon and the first A320 NEO is scheduled to arrive in February next year.