Air New Zealand launch Boeing 777-300ER

( Aircraft like no other for Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand’s first Boeing 777-300ER aircraft has been delivered in Seattle, USA and will touch down in Auckland on Christmas Eve morning, bringing the Kiwi designed economy Skycouch to New Zealand for the first time.

“This is the best Christmas present we could possibly imagine,” says Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe.

“Four long years of planning and design to create an absolute world-first interior and passenger experience is now a reality.”

In Seattle to accept the aircraft, Group General Manager International Airline Ed Sims said the aircraft heralds a whole new long-haul flying experience for Air New Zealand customers.

“The majority of our long-haul flights are overnight and we fly on average 90 minutes longer than any other airline. That’s why we set out to overcome the seemingly impossible challenge of finding a way for people to lie down in economy without compromising affordability.

“Few airlines have invested time and money beyond First Class, whereas we have focused on the areas where most of our passengers sit by reinventing every aspect of our Economy and Premium Economy customer experience.

“We’ve created the world’s first economy seating that enables people to lie down and a Premium Economy seat that many airlines would call Business Class.

“We’re also the first commercial airline to introduce induction ovens for all cabins to give our customers freshly prepared food and have developed an inflight entertainment (IFE) system to give people greater control over the way their journey will unfold,” says Mr Sims.

More than 30 airlines have been in contact with Air New Zealand regarding the new seats and formal negotiations are underway with carriers from Asia, North America and Europe to licence the seats following an 18 month period of exclusivity for Air New Zealand.

Highlights of the new aircraft interior include:

* Skycouch – affectionately known as Cuddle Class, giving couples and families the opportunity to lie down like they would on their couch at home
* Two distinctive Premium Economy seating designs to meet the demands of both individual travellers and couples
* The first commercial airline to have induction ovens in all cabins, giving customers the opportunity to have steak cooked the way they want it, fresh pizza and burgers, toast and eggs
* A kiwi-designed pillow that slips onto the winged headrest in economy (meaning the challenge of pillow slippage is gone forever)
* Unique bathroom imagery with wallpaper depicting book cases, chandeliers and other home interior elements
* An on-demand food and beverage service via the IFE system in every class
* Children’s story-time in the rear galley hosted by our cabin crew
* Inflight wine tasting in the forward galley hosted by our Inflight Concierges

The aircraft, registration ZK-OKM, is due to leave the Boeing facility in Seattle at 3pm local time today, 22 December, flying to Los Angeles before arriving into Auckland at 8.45am on Christmas Eve 24 December.

Air New Zealand has five Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on order, with the second due for delivery in February followed by a third in April. The 338 seat 777-300 aircraft is configured with 244 in Economy (including 60 seats creating 20 Skycouch combinations), 50 in Premium Economy and 44 in Business Premier.

The first routes to guarantee travellers the next generation of long-haul travel will be on dedicated return services on NZ1 and NZ2 between Auckland and Los Angeles and through to London from April 2011.

Media Release from Air New Zealand on 23 December 2010.