By James Wilkinson in Auckland
Air New Zealand is set to deploy its new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners to China, Japan, Australia, the United States and French Polynesia in a boost to hotels across the nation.
The airline’s decision to send the fuel-efficient 787s to China is a sign of commitment from the airline to further target the increasingly growing outbound Mainland China market, a major focus for tourism into New Zealand.
The move comes as hotels across New Zealand continue to adapt to the Chinese market, including Accor, which has been rolling out its ‘Optimum Service Standards’ program to make hotels feel at home for Chinese travellers.
Auckland-Shanghai will be one of the first routes to get the Dreamliner, alongside Tokyo, Perth, Honolulu and Papeete.
Air New Zealand is the launch customer for the Boeing 787-9, a stretched version of the Boeing 787-8, which is currently flying globally, and the first aircraft is expected to roll off the assembly line in Seattle next month.
The airline’s CEO, Christopher Luxon, says the Boeing 787 will be a “game changer” for the airline.
“This modern flexible fuel efficient aircraft will not only replace our current fleet of Boeing 767s, it also represents a significant growth opportunity for our business and opens up the prospect of expanding our Pacific Rim footprint,” he said.
“Given our 787-9’s will be multiple purpose aircraft – operating both long and mid haul sectors – we’ve put a lot of research effort into coming up with four distinct seating selections that meet the customer expectations across the markets it will serve.”
Air New Zealand will operate the Boeing 787-9s in a three-class configuration of Business Premier (the same lie-flat product as what’s featured on the Boeing 777 and 747-400 fleet), Premium Economy (a new generation of seat that’s been described by the airline as ‘Business Lite’) and Economy (featuring the revolutionary ‘Sky Couch’ offering).