Air New Zealand announced (22-Dec-2010) its first B777-300ER aircraft has been delivered in Seattle and will touch down in Auckland in the morning of 24-Dec-2010. The new aircraft is the first to be configured with the carrier's new economy Skycouch seating. Group General Manager Ed Sims stated the majority of airlines have ignored economy passengers as they focus on premium markets (Sydney Morning Herald, 23-Dec-2010). However Mr Sims added the new seats would not replace the lie-flat bed experience in business class. Air New Zealand confirmed more than 30 airlines have been in contact with the carrier 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. Air New Zealand has five B777-300ER aircraft on order, with the second due for delivery in Feb-2011 followed by a third in Apr-2011. The 338 seat B777-300 aircraft is configured with 244 seats in economy (including 60 seats creating 20 Skycouch combinations), 50 in premium economy and 44 in Business Premier. The carrier will deploy the aircraft on dedicated Auckland-Los Angeles-London return services from Apr-2011. [more]
Air New Zealand: “This is the best Christmas present we could possibly imagine. Four long years of planning and design to create an absolute world-first interior and passenger experience is now a reality,” Rob Fyfe, CEO. Source: Air New Zealand, 22-Dec-2010.