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Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

New plane will open up dream destinations

The arrival of Air New Zealand's first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner does not herald the start of lower airfares — but travellers will get access to new international destinations.

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The first of 10 of the model touched down in Auckland yesterday and the rest are expected to be in service by 2017.

Seats aboard Air New Zealand's first commercial flight on the carbon fibre plane when it travels to Perth from Auckland on October 15 will cost the same in economy class as a seat on a different plane.

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While the only confirmed routes are between Auckland and Perth, Shanghai and Tokyo, airline officials confirm airports in other parts of Australia and Asia will soon be added to the list.

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Tickets on sale to fly to Perth from Auckland show equal prices across economy seating.

It would cost $498 to be in the cheapest seat on that flight — the same price as getting aboard the Boeing 777-200 the day before it is replaced.

No premium economy or business class seats were currently available for the Dreamliner on the inaugural service on 15 October.

Air New Zealand chief financial officer Rob McDonald said a new, more fuel efficient plane did not necessarily translate to cheaper seats.

"In the end the market determines what the price is and we make sure we have the most efficient price possible.

"It is 20 per cent more fuel efficient, yes, but there are costs on top of that as well. It will do better than the one it replaces, but over time you are competing against people that have the same sort of aircraft.

"We are very fortunate to have the launch of the aircraft and that will give us an advantage for a period."

Mr McDonald said the big win for passengers would be more destinations for them to travel to.

"The reality is 'where to from here' is growth, and that's hugely important to us. For us, it's going to let us grow ... at the lowest possible cost and that means that we will start to see new destinations.

"We are always looking for more locations."


Rating the Dreamliner

Video: Inside Air NZ's Dreamliner

Seats — 4/5
I was seated in premium economy, allowing me to recline and use an extendable foot rest. The sky couch transforms into sofa beds.

Entertainment — 4/5
Impressive. Works like a tablet, with viewing, listening, gaming, flight information and Trip Adviser accessed as though opening an app. Flick on the light and call a steward with a tap of your finger.

Service — 4/5
Crew were friendly, attentive and fun.

Food — 5/5
I had fruit and granola for brekkie. Lunch was creamy crab and smoked salmon salad and an antipasto platter, with dulce de leche ice cream. For dinner it was smoked duck entree and roast chicken breast and rice pilaf for the main.

Cabin — 5/5
It was quieter and brightened with more natural light. The air felt fresher and less clammy.

Windows — 6/5
Worth the extra star. Larger and higher than others in the fleet, passengers seated in the centre of the cabin get a glimpse of what's outside.

- NZ Herald

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