Air New Zealand is betting on passengers’ willingness to pay more for a comfortable ride in its latest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
The new plane, ZK-NZL, touched down in Auckland on Sunday and comes with a reconfigured cabin with premium seating options.
The airline has boosted the number of seats in its acclaimed Business Premier class from 18 to 27 and its premium economy seats from 21 to 33. This compares with up to 44 seats in Business Premier and as many as 54 in premium economy on its Boeing 777s.
“Since we introduced the Dreamliner, we have seen strong customer demand for our award-winning Business Premier and premium economy cabins and the products and service that come with these,’’ Air NZ chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod said in a statement.
“Increasing the size of these cabins on our new 787-9 Dreamliners will give more customers than ever the opportunity to experience why Air New Zealand has been named by Airlineratings.com as the best airline in the world for the past four years.”
The Kiwi carrier was the launch customer for the 787-9 in 2014 and its 10th Dreamliner will enter service with an Auckland-Sydney flight on October 15 before heading to the Auckland-Houston route in December 2017.
This will be the first time a Dreamliner will regularly service one of the airline’s North American routes.
The airline has been focused on developing its routes in the Pacific Rim and has boosted international capacity significantly in recent years.
In addition to Houston, the airline has also launched services to Buenos Aires and Ho Chi Minh City, increased its presence in Japan and boosted capacity to markets such Vancouver, Bali and Hawaii.
The airline reported its second highest ever pre-tax profit in 2016-17, despite increased competition, and predicted it will do better this financial year.
AirNZ has also started a wi-fi trial on its one of Boeing 777-300s as it looks towards rolling out the service across its entire international jet fleet.
The carrier is using Inmarsat’s global GX satellite constellation and has partnered with Panasonic Avionics as the in-cabin technology supplier.
It expects the Boeing 777-300 conversion to be completed by June, 2018and the B777-200 fleet to start rolling out from April.
“The trial will not only test the technical aspects of the service, it will also gather feedback on pricing options,” said Air New Zealand Chief Digital Officer Avi Golan.