Air New Zealand has announced a number of changes which will more closely align its trans-Tasman and Pacific services with its domestic product, including removing business class on a number of services.
The changes will see Air NZ standardise its Airbus A320s used on trans-Tasman and Pacific services to an all-economy 171-seat configuration, dropping business class. At the same time, the airline will cut the price of its lead-in fares, introduce a new four tiered fare category system, and introduce new kiosks and streamline check-in procedures to reduce the average airport waiting time by 45 minutes.
“For more than a year we have had a team gaining a better understanding of what customers want in these highly competitive markets and the innovative changes we are going to introduce are based on what they have been telling us,” said group general manager short haul airline Bruce Parton.
Parton added that the airline had seen major falls in demand for business class seats on services from Wellington and Christchurch which led to the decision to standardise the domestic and short haul international A320 products. “Business class will still be available out of Auckland on widebody aircraft flights at prime times that meet the needs of corporate travellers and those business premier customers connecting with our long haul services,” he said.
The four tier fare system will see a basic ‘Seat’ fare include 7kg of carryon, free coffee tea and water, and limited inflight entertainment options.
The ‘Seat Plus Bag’ option adds one checked bag, while the ‘Works’ fare level adds to that a meal and free drinks and the ability to make seat allocation requests. Finally the ‘Works Deluxe’ fare adds a guaranteed empty seat next to the passenger – a new take on the premium economy concept – plus premium check-in, lounge access and expanded inflight entertainment options.
Christchurch will be the first market to see the changes from late August, while it will be rolled out across the short haul network from late November. The first fares on the new product from Christchurch will be released during April, with network-wide sales to start in September.