has confirmed that the world’s first scheduled -9 route will be from Auckland to Perth, with the aircraft taking over that flight from Oct. 15.
The carrier is the launch customer for the -9 version of the 787, and the first aircraft is expected to be delivered in July. Before it is assigned to the Perth service, it will be used on some one-off flights on various routes to Australia, an airline spokeswoman tells Aviation Week. These flights will not be advertised as 787 flights, however.
Aviation Week reported in June that Perth would likely be the first dedicated route for the 787-9s. This service is currently operated by-200s.
Air New Zealand says the next routes for the 787s will be flights from Auckland to Shanghai and Tokyo, to begin by the end of 2014. Some of the Tokyo and Shanghai flights will also operate to Christchurch, the airline spokeswoman says.
The airline has 10 787-9s on order, and is scheduled to receive a total of three by the end of 2014. The carrier has previously indicated that other mid-range destinations will include Papeete and Honolulu.
Air New Zealand has also revealed the cabin configuration for its initial 787-9s. They will have 302 seats, comprising 18 lie-flat seats in a herringbone pattern in Business Premier class, 21 premium economy seats in a 2-3-2 layout, and 263 in economy.
The carrier has installed a full cabin interior mockup at its Customer Innovation and Collaboration Center in Auckland, which it says is the only such 787-9 interior outside Seattle.
In a separate announcement, Air New Zealand has signed its first licensing deal for its Skycouch seat product. This uses a seat insert to turn three-abreast economy seats into a bed for two.
Under confidentiality clauses of the agreement, Air New Zealand cannot reveal the name of its first Skycouch customer until next year, although it says it is a large Asia-based carrier. Air New Zealand’s 787-9s will have 14 economy rows where the Skycouch can be used.