Auckland-Perth will be Air New Zealand’s first 787-9 route when the aircraft enter services next October, CEO Christopher Luxon announced at the opening of the airline’s Customer Innovation and Collaboration Centre in Auckland on Thursday, where he also revealed details of the airline’s 787-9 interior.
Passengers travelling from Auckland to Perth on the October 14 launch flight will experience a three-class, 302-seat cabin comprising 18 lie-flat Business Premier seats, 21 premium economy seats set at 2+3+2 and 263 economy seats at nine-abreast, including 14 Skycouch rows.
Following Auckland-Perth, a route codeshared with Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand will deploy the 787-9 on Auckland-Shanghai and Auckland-Tokyo services.
“The 787-9 is going to be a game changer for Air New Zealand and is a key element in delivering on our Go Beyond growth plan. Not only is the 787-9 around 20 per cent more fuel efficient than the aircraft it’s replacing, it also sets a new benchmark for passenger comfort,” Luxon said.
A full cabin interior mockup of the 787-9 is a feature of the Customer Innovation and Collaboration Centre, which the airline says has been designed as an “innovation hub”.
“Our new Customer Innovation and Collaboration Centre will give us a venue to showcase the on board experience before the world’s first 787-9 to enter commercial service joins our fleet in the middle of next year. We’ll have a busy program of hosting customers, trade partners and stakeholders at the centre over the coming months. We are confident they will be as excited as we are about the future of air travel,” Luxon said.
“We are determined to deliver step changes in customer experience and to work with our trade partners to crack business issues and seize opportunities together. This centre provides a focal point to bring to life the best of Kiwi ingenuity and we are going to make it available as a venue for other like-minded Kiwi businesses to use.”
Air New Zealand will be the launch operator of the 787-9, and has 10 on order.
Meanwhile, Air New Zealand has announced its first deal licensing its Skycouch seat arrangement to another airline, with an as yet unnamed Asian carrier the first to adopt the innovative seating arrangement.
“We took a deliberate decision to keep the product exclusive to our own customers initially and families in particular have really appreciated the extra space and flexibility it offers,” Luxon said. “We’re pleased to have signed this first agreement and we’re continuing to talk with other airlines about further licensing agreements.”
The first Skycouch customer can’t be named until next year. The licensing agreement follows the expiry of Air New Zealand’s exclusivity period for the Skycouch, which it first introduced in 2011.