Air New Zealand's first Boeing 787-9 arrived in Auckland on Saturday night, as the advanced passenger jet undergoes extensive testing ahead of its mid-year debut.
It's the second in a series of three 787-9s dedicated to the test program, but once those trials are over it will be upgraded to Air New Zealand's specifications, painted in the Kiwi Carrier's eye-catching livery and make a second journey from Seattle to Auckland – this time, to stay.
Having one of Air New Zealand’s 787-9s touch down on Kiwi soil for the first time is hugely exciting” said Air New Zealand CEO Chris Luxon.
“It’s a real reminder that we will soon welcome the first of these more modern, fuel-efficient airplanes into our fleet.”
Air New Zealand has ordered ten of the Boeing 787-9s, which is a stretched version of Boeing’s original 787-8 Dreamliner capable of carrying more passengers over longer distances.
The Kiwi carrier’s first 787-9 will make its debut on October 15th flying between Auckland and Perth and will be shared with partner Virgin Australia.
Boeing 787-9 flights between Auckland and Shanghai, as well as Auckland-Tokyo and Christchurch-Tokyo, will follow in 2014.
Inside Air New Zealand's Boeing 787-9
Each of Air New Zealand's Boeing 787-9s will see a three-class configuration of 18 seats in business class, 21 in premium economy and 263 in economy.
We've put together this quick video clip to showcase the seats.
The pointy end of Air NZ's Boeing 787-9 will see 18 of the familiar Business Premier seats already seen on the airline's flagship Boeing 777s.
The lie-flat business class seats are arranged in a 1-1-1 herringbone layout so that every passenger has direct aisle access.
The seat is fitted with a 'memory foam' mattress, duvet and two full size pillows.
Less familiar are the Premium Economy seats, with Air NZ choosing a more standard 'off the shelf' design instead of its Spaceseat (show below).
The 787-9's premium economy seats have been sourced from US seat designer Zodiac, with Air New Zealand calling them "a customised seat best described as Business-lite."
Arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration, the seats have a 41” pitch and 5” wide armrest, with a generous 9" recline, integrated leg rest and extendable foot support.
There are 21 premium economy seats in this stand-alone cabin, which also has its own dedicated bathroom facilities.
The bulk of Air New Zealand's Boeing 787-9 is given over to two economy cabins with all seating in a 3-3-3 layout.
This includes 14 Skycouch rows of three seats where the legrests and armrests flip all the way up to convert into a 'sofa-like' flat surface.
The Skycouch rows have a 33" pitch compared to the 31-32" of standard economy seats.
The rest of the economy cabin will be fitted with a standard economy seat from Zodiac but customised to Air New Zealand's specifications including a slimline seat back for more space, sculpted upholstering and a more flexible headrest.
Australian Business Traveller is visiting Auckland and will tour the Boeing 787-9 as a guest of Boeing.
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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.