It had been thought that Air New Zealand’s new B777-300ER, the first aircraft to feature the carrier’s more spacious premium economy and innovative Skycouch seating, would debut in December (see online news April 17).
The launch called for the new products to feature on the transpacific route linking Auckland with Los Angeles. Services would be extended to London Heathrow from April 1 next year.
But current plans now see the first B777-300ER entering service a month later and then only on an ad hoc basis covering a limited number of flights services linking Auckland with not just Los Angeles but Melbourne and Brisbane too.
As a result it means that those passengers who have booked to travel from Auckland-Los Angeles or vice versa to sample the new products during the busy festive season, will be surprised and disappointed to find they are unavailable. In place of what they thought would be a B777-300ER they will find themselves on board a B747-400 with the older seating. No reason has been forthcoming from ANZ as to the reason for these delays.
However what appears certain (at the time of writing) is that passengers travelling with ANZ from Auckland to London via Los Angeles will get the new products from April 1.
In a statement issued to Business Traveller by ANZ, the airline says, “The B777-300ER continues to be guaranteed available to operate NZ1 (London-Los Angeles-Auckland) and NZ2 (Auckland-Los Angeles-London) from April 2011. This is the first/date route on which passengers can purchase the new product.”
“Up until that point the aircraft will operate ad hoc [selectively] on trans-Tasman and Auckland-Los Angeles. As a result of the ad hoc nature of the flying our existing economy, premium economy and business class products are for sale on those routes. If customers end up on a B777-300ER then they will be surprised and delighted about getting to experience the new product.”
“We continue to move aircraft around the network. As you have mentioned, we have a B747-400 operating to Los Angeles over December and into January to allow additional operational flexibility.”
Interestingly, ANZ reveals that frequent flyers alone will be able to sample the new seating if they are lucky enough to find a B777-300ER operating their flight across the Tasman.
“We never intended that Skycouch and premium economy seating would be sold on the trans-Tasman. Therefore those seats are masked [blocked] for the airline to seat [accommodate] frequent flyers as an added benefit to them.”
For more information visit airnewzealand.co.uk or relevant Air New Zealand country sites.
Report by Alex McWhirter