Air New Zealand is developing an all-new business class seat

Air New Zealand is developing an all-new business class seat

Behind closed doors and with tightly-sealed lips, Air New Zealand is working on an all-new business class seat to replace its decade-old sleeper.

The seat is expected to crown the pointy end of AirNZ's forthcoming non-stop flights to New York and other far-afield destinations on the Boeing 777X or Airbus A350 from 2022, and would also appear on a refit of the Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet.

The Star Alliance member's current business class is facing competition from more modern and generally superior seats flown by competitors such as Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, among others.

''Whatever you land on is going to be on board an aircraft for a decade plus, so you have to get it right," Air New Zealand's chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod told the New Zealand Herald. "And part of getting it right involves a little bit of crystal ball gazing. In our case we have to look as far out as 2030.''

''We have been having a bunch of super interesting conversations across different industries around the globe trying to distil down what common themes we need to be thinking about, while at the same time identifying partners who share the same vision for the future of air travel.''

The NZ Herald reports that development of the new business class seat, along with its premium economy and economy counterparts, is being carried out "in a secure building near (the airline's) downtown Auckland headquarters."

"While the airline is not releasing details of the project, the test site has been dubbed 'Hangar 22'' and for the past month a handful of its customers, including some of its most frequent long-haul flyers have started trialling early-stage product development."

Consultants from US design firm IDEO – who shaped the previous generation of seats, including the revolutionary but-since-canned Spaceseat - have also reportedly visited Auckland.

Read more: Air New Zealand's top secret operation to revamp long-haul cabins

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.


  • reeves35


    14 May, 2018 04:29 pm

    The NZ J class product is very outdated compared with just about everybody. In some ways, it is surprising that NZ didn't do something about it when it introduced the 787.

    It still has a very competitive W class product with a leading pitch of over 40" and will probably shy away from being too revolutionary after the Spaceseat debacle.

    NZ are also apparently reviewing their Y product where they have the unique bed product. It will be interesting to see where they go with this also. Despite being offered to a number of airlines, no other major airline has adopted the seat. There is speculation that this may be because of fear of cannibalising premium cabin yields though it was also not helped by an apparently very high licensing fee that NZ were demanding.

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  • Lachlan Burnet


    14 May, 2018 05:53 pm

    The Sky Couch is also found on China Airlines from Taiwan. Seeing as its a much larger airline than NZ I'd put that in the "major airline" category.
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  • kiwiwings


    14 May, 2018 06:08 pm

    There's several other airlines that have sky couch or some similar product. Azores airlines? I can't remember the list. Not a huge uptake but there are more airlines with this.
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  • Scott Wilson


    14 May, 2018 10:41 pm

    ANA is introducing the Skycouch to its A380s and Air Astana has introduced it. However, my hope is NZ doesn't tighten up its PE seat pitch. Plenty of scope for NZ to do something better in J class, perhaps forward facing with sliding doors. The old updated VS herringbone design is very comfortable for sleeping, but not the best in other positions.
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  • Packetman21


    14 May, 2018 04:34 pm

    About time! It will be welcomed upgrade over the coffin class....
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  • Dredgy


    14 May, 2018 04:47 pm

    I find the current seats to be very good, I just wish the IFE screen was height adjustable, because in their current configuration I can't lie comfortably and watch TV without the screen digging into me.
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  • Steven Beale


    14 May, 2018 06:35 pm

    Agree. Im ok with the current product but It's time to update especially with a number of airlines moving to the Business suite model.
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  • DB


    14 May, 2018 10:01 pm

    Well that’s a tad dramatic. Long overdue for an update. Still disappointed ANZ removed the space seat in PE.
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  • k  lane


    15 May, 2018 02:49 pm

    best innovation in PE
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  • -- --


    15 May, 2018 02:43 am

    Not a fan of the angled to the centre seats. I wonder if they will make the next seat less revolutionary than last time?
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  • Ron Andersen


    16 May, 2018 07:36 pm

    Yes, window seats that face away from the window. It takes an airline to come up with that one!
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  • Mike K


    15 May, 2018 06:47 am

    White leather was a spectacularly poor choice of upholstery. Hopefully they choose that’ll age better.
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  • k  lane


    15 May, 2018 07:57 am

    bring back the SPACESEAT - mark 2
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  • Jenny Gascoyne


    15 May, 2018 02:52 pm

    I would like to see seats that semi recline at various points found that the lie flat bed became uncomfortable after a few hours sleeping
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  • Jazzop


    16 May, 2018 03:16 pm

    Seats + bunks. That's what it will be. :)
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  • Kevin Jackson

    Kevin Jackson

    16 May, 2018 03:48 pm

    WThe current herring bone configuration has turned me off
    Air N.Z, Business Class.
    To have to sit for hours and have to look at a stranger, who ofte have their shoes off and no socks I'd not my idea of
    travelling for a premium price.
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  • DomorKrug


    16 May, 2018 03:57 pm

    have to agree, terrible premium product... from the wine to the food...but most of all is the awful foot well , if you are 6 ft tall and have over size 12 feet ( I'm size 13 ) i wasn't able to fly with legs straight... so I gave up
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20 May, 2019 11:02 am


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