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Current as of 28/11/14 07:40PM NZST

Grant Bradley

Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Air NZ smartens seats and screens in $100m upgrade

Work on eight Boeing 777-200s will standardise long-haul fleet

Air New Zealand's upgrade is set to begin in 2014 and is expected to take about a year. Photo / Supplied
Air New Zealand's upgrade is set to begin in 2014 and is expected to take about a year. Photo / Supplied

Several aircraft will have new Air New Zealand livery - a black tail and new lettering - painted on at the same time.

Air New Zealand is spending more than $100 million upgrading its Boeing 777-200 fleet with new seats and inflight entertainment systems.

The airline's deputy chief executive, Norm Thompson, said the upgrade of the eight 304-seat aircraft would standardise its long-haul fleet.

Work is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2014 and is expected to take about a year to complete.

Thompson said that with the introduction of the 777-300ERs during the past 18 months and the arrival of the 787-9s scheduled for mid-2014, the 777-200 upgrade would align the airline's product across all three long-haul aircraft.

He said the latest inflight entertainment system was developed with Panasonic and would bring improved resolution and touch screens to all seats in the aircraft.

The new Panasonic eXlite would also bring significant weight savings through better component design and architecture, he said.

Work will be done at the airline's Auckland engineering base and the upgrade will introduce the new elements of the Air New Zealand brand refresh seen in the interiors of the 777-300ER and A320 domestic aircraft. This includes new business premier seats and the complete replacement of the premium economy and economy seats.

The airline will also install its lie-flat "cuddle class" skycouches in the economy cabin.

Several aircraft will also have new Air New Zealand livery - a black tail and new lettering - painted on at the same time.

Thompson said the upgrade was part of a commitment to delivering cutting-edge products to Air New Zealand's customers alongside award-winning service.

The 777-200ER first entered service with Air New Zealand in 2005, and Thompson said it had proven to be a very efficient aircraft throughout the airline's network.

The planes currently operate on a selection of international routes.

- NZ Herald

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