Air New Zealand has announced its Auckland-Perth will be the first scheduled route ever operated by its new Boeing 787-9 when the airline takes delivery of the new larger variant of the Dreamliner late next year. The airline’s chief executive officer Christopher Luxon confirmed the news at the official opening of a new Customer Innovation and Collaboration Centre in Auckland this week. A feature of the centre is the only Boeing 787-9 full cabin interior outside the factory in Seattle.
“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,” said Luxon.
According to Luxon, the Customer Innovation and Collaboration Centre will be the hub for further innovation from Air New Zealand. “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 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,” he added.
The airline has also unveiled the cabin layout and configuration details for then ten 787-9s it has on order. These will have an 18 seat lie-flat Business Premier zone in a herringbone layout and a separate 21 seat Premium Economy cabin in a 2-3-2 configuration, each with its own dedicated bathroom facilities. The two Economy cabins will accommodate 263 passengers.
According to Luxon, after its debut on the Auckland-Perth route (which is operated as part of its trans-Tasman alliance with Virgin Australia) the 787-9 will subsequently be introduced on flights linking Auckland with Tokyo and Shanghai.
Air New Zealand is one of 23 customers to sign up for the 787-9, according to Boeing’s latest orderbook. A total of 391 aircraft have been ordered by those customers, which comprise a mix of airlines, lessors and private enterprises. Air New Zealand first places its order in August 2004 so it will be around ten years from the original deal to entry into service.