Boeing 787-9 launch customer Air New Zealand plans to configure its initial deliveries with about 300 seats, representing a relatively large proportion of economy passengers, according to an airline executive.

The high ratio of economy seats reflects the fact that the early 787s will be deployed on Asian routes which are primarily leisure travel markets, CFO Rob McDonald said during the Aviation Outlook Australia Pacific conference in Sydney. However, when the aircraft is eventually deployed to North America, there will likely be a greater proportion of premium seats, he says.

McDonald’s comments about initial routes align with previous statements by Air New Zealand executives. They have said that the first deliveries will be used to replace 767-300ERs on medium-haul international routes.

The carrier is scheduled to receive the first of its 10 orders for the stretched version of the 787 in mid-2014. The airline has been working to finalize the cabin specification for its early deliveries by September. It will be a three-class layout, McDonald says.

Air New Zealand’s seat count appears to be on the high end of the scale. Boeing’s website lists the 787-9 seat range as 250-290 seats, and has cited a 280-seat plan as an example of a three-class configuration. However, on many programs the early Boeing estimates differ from the configurations selected by carriers.