Air New Zealand is working on a new economy seat set up that gives passengers extra legroom - for a price.

The airline hopes to roll out the new seat from early next year and says it could charge between $150 and $250 more for more comfort.

It would be different to premium economy - where there are fewer seats in a row and other comforts, including better food - but more roomy than standard economy seats.

The airline's chief revenue officer Cam Wallace said it was in the final stage of ''desegregating'' the economy cabin as part of a wider review of its interiors.


On wide body planes there will be standard economy, the new product with a working name of ''economy comfort or economy plus,'' the Sky Couch and further forward premium economy and business premier.

Wallace said Air New Zealand was modelling its new economy seat on overseas airlines, mainly those which cross the Atlantic.

United Airlines has had ''economy plus'' for many years and they are popular with passengers. They are part of the main economy section and the seats have an extra 12cm between them. For a transpacific flight, United charges around US$170 ($265) extra.

Speaking at the Trenz tourism event in Rotorua, Wallace said the revamp was part of a review of aircraft Layout of Passenger Amenities (Lopa).

He said there would be 30 to 40 new economy seats retrofitted into existing planes. The airline's wide body fleet has between 275 seats and 342 seats.

''We've looked at various scenarios - there are some airlines that do economy minus or basic economy but given the distance that we're away from primary markets we want it to be a higher spec product rather than a reduced spec product. That's the direction we're going in.''

Air New Zealand was fitting fewer basic economy seats throughout the fleet as leisure travellers - the airline's prime market - were prepared to pay more for more comfort.

More than half the area of its Boeing 777-300s had premium or premium economy seats at the moment.


The airline is also working on tweaks to its herring bone business premier seats to give more space and comfort before introducing a completely new cabin in next generation planes from 2022.

Wallace said work was continuing on a deep investigation into the cabin which would ''re-invent'' business class for the airline.

The airline has said it will make an announcement on new wide body planes to replace Boeing 777-200s before the end of June.