New Caledonia's Aircalin will send its new Airbus A320neo darting across the Pacific this year, including to Australia and New Zealand.
The nimble jet will first stretch its wings between the Noumea and the neighbouring French territory of Wallis and Futuna, before appearing on other regional routes to Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland (once COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted) along with Port Vila and Nadi.
Aircalin tells Executive Traveller that the A320neo will supplement the larger twin-aisle A330neo on the Noumea-Sydney corridor – although unlike the A330neo, which sports 26 lie-flat business class seats, the A320neo is all economy class from tip to tail.
With a modest 30-inch pitch, each of the 168 economy seat has its own 30cm HD video screen and USB power outlet; inflight WiFi "will be available at a later stage," the airline promises.
On most flights the first rows will be sold as premium economy, with the middle seat left vacant and a curtain separating premium passengers from the hoi polloi.
Aircalin's A320neo premium economy package includes "a dedicated and refined food service" plus priority checkin and boarding and a higher baggage allowance.
“This new aircraft is part of our fleet renewal meant to offer our passengers modern and innovative service,” says Aircalin CEO Didier Tappero.
The A320neo will see one of the airline's two ageing A320 jets put out to pasture; the delivery of a second A320neo has been put on hold until 2023.