Air New Zealand will start flights with its refurbished Boeing 777-200ER aircraft on Saturday.
The first flights with the upgraded aircraft will be NZ135 from Auckland to Brisbane and the return service NZ136 on Saturday, August 23, according to the Airline Route website. That will be followed by return services to Sydney on Sunday and Nadi in Fiji on Monday. Flights beyond Monday were expected to be added progressively.
Air NZ has eight Boeing 777-200ERs in its fleet which are used primarily to North America and Asia, but also regularly operate on the trans-Tasman. The old configuration featured 304 seats, with 26 in business, 36 in premium economy and 242 in economy.
There will be an increase of eight seats under the new layout – business will stay at 26 seats, while premium economy will increase to 40 and the number of economy seats rises to 246. The premium economy seat will be the same as Air NZ has just introduced on its Boeing 787-9s and will be in a 2-4-2 layout, compared with 3-3-3 in unreconfigured aircraft.
And the economy cabin will feature the Skycouch, where three seats by the window can be used as a flat surface to lay down, Air NZ said in 2012 when announcing the upgrade program. The configuration will also change, with the airline going to the 3-4-3 layout that is currently used on its 777-300ERs, from 3-3-3 currently.
The upgrade of of all eight 777-200ERs, which is being undertaken at the airline’s Auckland engineering base, was expected to be finished in 2015.
Meanwhile, Flightglobal reported that Brazilian carrier Azul will use the Air NZ-designed Skycouch on its Airbus A330 aircraft for flights to the USA.
Azul was the second carrier to license the Skycouch, after Taiwan’s China Airlines confirmed in January 2014 it would fit the seats on its Boeing 777-300ERs.