Air New Zealand will fly the B787-9 Dreamliner's first scheduled route between Auckland and Perth next year, it was announced today.
The carrier is due to take delivery of the Boeing 787-9 launch aircraft in early 2014, with its inaugural route scheduled to begin on October 15.
Following the opening of the Auckland-Perth service — which is operated as part of its trans-Tasman alliance with Virgin Australia — ANZ will next roster the aircraft onto its Auckland-Tokyo and Auckland-Shanghai routes.
Premium Economy: The 21-seat cabin will be in a 2-3-2 configuration
The airline has confirmed its B787-9 will have an 18 lie-flat seat Business Premier zone in a herringbone layout and a separate 21-seat Premium Economy cabin in a 2-3-2 configuration, each with its own bathroom facilities. The two Economy cabins will accommodate 263 passengers, including 14 Skycouch rows.
All customers will benefit from the Boeing 787-9s larger windows, cleaner cabin air, higher humidity and lower relative cabin pressure, the airline said.
Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon made the route announcement at the official opening of the airline's Customer Innovation and Collaboration Centre in Auckland today.
The centre contains the only B787-9 full cabin interior outside the Boeing factory in Seattle, showcasing each of the aircraft's three cabin classes.
Mr Luxon said: "This centre provides a focal point to bring to life the best of Kiwi ingenuity and we will also make it available as a venue for like minded Kiwi businesses to use."
Comfort: Business Premier features 18 lie-flat seats
One of 14 Skycouch rows in Economy
Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia customers are able to book on the 787-9 service between Auckland and Perth for travel from October 15 at airnewzealand.com and virginaustralia.com.
In June, the carrier confirmed that it has no immediate plans to use the aircraft on US or UK routes (see news, June 26).
It unveiled its new aircraft livery, featuring the iconic official New Zealand Fern Mark, the same month (see news, June 11).