Air New Zealand will upgrade its entire fleet of long-range Boeing 777-200ER jets with new seats from tip to tail, plus an all-new inflight entertainment system using touchscreens.
The first of eight 777-200s will go under the knife in the second quarter of 2014, the airline says, "with all eight aircraft planned to be completed in the following 12 months."
Air New Zealand uses the plane on numerous flights between Australia and Auckland as well as its long-haul services.
The refit will see the 777-200s sporting the latest Business Premier business class seats, along with the Premium Economy Spaceseat and Economy class seats already installed in the Kiwi flag-carrier's Boeing 777-300ER and soon for its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
However, the airline declined to share details of the specific seat configuration – such as the pitch in Premium Economy, which was an issue on the Boeing 777-300ERs, or that the economy layout would go up from the current 3-3-3 to rows of 3-4-3.
"We can’t provide specific details at this stage" an airline spokeswoman told Australian Business Traveller. "Details on the configuration will be released closer to the time."
Panasonic's new touchscreen eXlite inflight entertainment system will also be installed in all seats, making Air New Zealand the first customer for the low-power lightweight kit.
Panasonic Avionics describes traits of the eXlite as "elegant industrial design, seamless interior integration, capacitive touch, proximity sensors, incredible viewing angles, and next-generation processors. It also has a streamlined architecture that reduces weight and cost."
Depending on how airlines want the eXlite configured the system's apps can include seat-to-seat chat as well as inflight Internet access to Facebook, Twitter and email.
"A number of aircraft will also have new Air New Zealand livery applied during the same period" adds Air New Zealand Deputy CEO Norm Thompson.
“With the introduction of the 777-300ERs over the past 18 months and the arrival of the 787-9s in mid 2014, the 777-200ER fleet will be upgraded to align the product across all of the three long-haul fleet types,” says Thompson, who pegs the cost of the upgrade project at "more than NZ$100 million" (A$79 million).
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.