The first of Air New Zealand's new-look Boeing 787-9s has arrived in Auckland, with a freshly configured interior offering more premium seats.
The airline says this is in response to growing demand for premium travel and the aircraft will be used on its Auckland-Houston route from December, the first time a Dreamliner has been used regularly on North American services.
Airlines make their best returns per seat in premium cabins. Increasing numbers of leisure travellers are sitting up the front of planes to and from New Zealand as fares drop amid hot competition.
Air New Zealand's four new Dreamliners will have 27 Business Premier seats, up from 18, and 33 Premium Economy, up from 21.
Air New Zealand was the first airline in the world to take delivery of the 787-9 aircraft in 2014 and this latest arrival takes the airline's fleet to 10 Dreamliners. The aircraft, which arrived on yesterday, is also the airline's first from Boeing's facility in North Charleston, South Carolina.
The airline's other aircraft have come from Boeing's manufacturing base in Seattle, Washington state.
Air New Zealand chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod said the airline was expecting the new cabin layout to be popular with customers.
"Increasing the size of these cabins on our new 787-9 Dreamliners will give more customers than ever the opportunity to experience why Air New Zealand has been named by Airlineratings.com as the best airline in the world for the past four years," he said.
Boeing commercial airplanes senior vice president, Asia Pacific and India sales Dinesh Keskar, said the manufacturer had enjoyed the opportunity to work with the 787-9 Dreamliner launch customer on this reconfiguration of the aircraft.
The fleet has performed well to date, delivering good fuel efficiencies with each aircraft 20 percent more efficient than the aircraft they have replaced. The Dreamliner's reduced weight, aerodynamic features and more efficient engines have contributed to those savings.
The latest aircraft, with the tail number ZK-NZL, is scheduled to enter service on Sunday, October 15, operating a service to Sydney.
Air New Zealand rival, Qantas, takes delivery of its first Dreamliner next week and it too has a heavy weighting of premium seats.