Air New Zealand confirms no business class for A321neo jets

By David Flynn, April 4 2017

Air New Zealand has chosen to go the all-economy route for its new Airbus A321neo and A320neo jets, which will take wing later this year.

The Star Alliance member has been steadily edging away from a commitment to business class on its new trans-Tasman fleet, which will replace the current A320 single-aisle jets which mainly ply its Australia-New Zealand routes.

From tip to tail the A320neo and A321neo jets will be fitted with a 'slimline' economy seat predictably finished in Kiwi black.

Interestingly, the seat – from seatmakers Acro – boasts a slightly wider middle seat compared to its window and aisle neighbours, with an extra 1.5 inches (3.8cm) to help avoid that battle for the armrests.

“The slightly wider middle seat helps balance out the fact that window and aisle seat customers enjoy a greater sense of space" explains Anita Hawthorne, Air New Zealand's General Manager for Customer Experience.

"We currently have many customers who state a preference for window or aisle seats and it’s possible the new design may see the middle seat get a boost in popularity."

Hawthorne also says the window and aisle seats will gain one extra centimetre of width compared to those on the airline's current international Airbus A320 fleet.

PREVIOUS | Air New Zealand has all but ruled out business class on its forthcoming Airbus A321neo fleet, opting instead for an all-economy layout.

The Kiwi carrier had previously flirted with fitting a small business class cabin to the pointy end of the new single-aisle jets to help it better compete against Qantas, which offers business class on all trans-Tasman flights.

AirNZ's partner Virgin Australia has also upgraded its pond-hopping Boeing 737 flights to include a domestic-grade business class.

Read more: The best business class between Sydney and Auckland

However, with the delivery of the first A321neo now just one year away, Air New Zealand says "it's very unlikely the A321neo will have business class", the airline's Chief Revenue Officer Cam Wallace tells Australian Business Traveller.

"More and more the trans-Tasman market is being served by wide-body jets, and as we get more wide-bodies with business and premium seating, my instinct is that we will serve the business market with those wide-bodies," Wallace predicts.

However, this doesn't mean the A321neo will squeeze all passengers into tight-fitting economy seats – even through Airbus' revised cabin layout adds an extra 20 seats in a standard all-economy design, boosting the head-count from 220 to 240.

Read more: Airbus reveals new A321neo layout

AirNZ's A321neo "is likely to have" some form of premium seating, Wallace confirms, such as extra-legroom Space+ rows or a Works Deluxe option in which the middle seats of the 3-3 configuration remain empty.

The A321neo jets will also come fitted with satellite Internet, with the very first delivery in late 2017 rolling into Air New Zealand's inflight WiFi trial alongside a retrofitted Boeing 777-300ER.

Read more: Air New Zealand to launch inflight Internet

Connect with other AusBT readers and frequent flyers in our Air New Zealand discussion group

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 160

Interesting comment by NZ. SQ/CA/EY where pushing NZ to have J class on the A321neo's.

It seems that SQ/CA/EY/UA premium customers will be using premium product on B777/B789 services between New Zealand and Australia

So, it look like Works and Works Deluxe products utilizing space+ seating, forward of the wing in all 'economy' class seating configuration, as currently on all existing A320's on short haul international services. Doing this way keeps costs down and higher yield on cheaper fares.

Most of NZ's short haul international services are at usually 3 hour flight time except AKL/ADL which 5 hours and AKL/MEL 4 hours.

There is nothing wrong with the Works Deluxe product on international short haul flights. The best thing with the product from NZ point of view, it is easy to manage the product inventory for each flight.

NZ uses seat+ product for passengers who pay full economy fare and who are Airpoints Koru, Gold and Gold Elite and Star Alliance Gold members of NZ partners.

NZ is buying 5 A321neos and 8 A320neos.


sgb
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Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

240 seats with only two toilets doesn't sound good.
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Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

Possibly are three WC's, strange configuration down the back.
Mal
Mal

14 Jun 2013

Total posts 360

There are three toilets, one at the front and two are the rear. The rear ones use the new Airbus 'Space Flex' design so that are smaller than previous, which helps Airbus fir more seats onto the A321neo.
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Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

Space Flex toilets sound worse than the 18" seats. No Thanks.

02 Jan 2013

Total posts 142

28 Inch Pitch.......No Thanks!

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

02 Sep 2014

Total posts 17

Yep I saw that and was just thinking the same thing... even Tiger has better seating than that!
Sounds like AirNZ and Qantas have given up on business class across the tasman unless you're on a 777.  Makes sense to let Emirates take that on as their product is better in my humble opinion.
sgb
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Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

well, in product comparison, one has everything, and the other offers nothing, I think I know which one I'll continue using.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Nov 2014

Total posts 34

Those 18" seats that Airbus continue to go on about are so uncomfortable. Very thin and not much padding.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 582

blame the seat manufacturers for that, not airbus
So unlikely to see a non-QF business class between Sydney and Wellington then. Hmm... Hello QF! :-/
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Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

Sydney to Wellington - Hello QF.  The only thing luxurious about that Business offering is the price, or should I say more like extortion!!!

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

04 Sep 2012

Total posts 136

I'd hoped that they would put a few rows of their new Premium Economy recliner product on their new A321's. I think that would be sufficient for a 3-4 hour flight and an improvement over Works Deluxe.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

24 Jan 2013

Total posts 30

EXACTLY and i had several conversations with loyalty etc and they talked a "biz lite" and what you expressed is exactly what is required. I have flown works deluxe too many times and wonder why other than to get some space its true extortion and being ex wlg we are so strangled. i hope they do listen but i have my doubts  

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

26 Feb 2016

Total posts 101

The 28 inch pitch and 10 abreast 77Ws. Now I can say proudly: I'm slim enough to board an Air NZ flight!

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 160

For Koru 17. Are you thinking that the 1st compartment on the A321, having Premium Economy seating with standard meal service?

It would have to be 3 aisle 3 seating. I have a look at Zodic Aerospace product range and they don't seem to have Premium Economy product for single aisle aircraft for 3 aisle 3 configuration. Thompson Aerospace does.

NZ could do it but reading between the lines of Cam Wallace statement, that NZ wants to have standard seating configuration across all of the A320/A321 domestic and short haul international fleets.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

24 Jan 2013

Total posts 30

aka they cant really be stuffed ...sorry but thats the feeling i get

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 160

Another possibility, NZ may go for 210 seat capacity for the A321's using standard economy seats. This would have 9 rows of 3 aisle 3 instead of Airbus recommended 10 rows for the 1st compartment, to allow a greater pitch between seats and seat recline but still have works or works deluxe product.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Nov 2015

Total posts 7

I'm waiting to see how long it will take airlines to announce they will install wooden benches for the plebian class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2016

Total posts 108

I am waiting for stacked wooden benches - 3 seats below, 3 seats on top

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Jul 2016

Total posts 23

@ william the plebs will likely be stacked and packed at the rate they're going.  i find air asia seating cramped and that's with a 29" seat pitch.  i'm not sure i could sit in 28" seating as my knees already bump the seat in front on air asia.  could be a ploy to limit human growth.

the narrower pitch makes getting out so much more difficult.  i'd love to see a video of how they prove you can get all the pax of a full plane in 90(?) seconds.  i have difficulty believing frightened less than rational pax can quickly make their way out of the window seat.

13 Nov 2015

Total posts 51

This will be studied at business schools under the 'what were they thinking' lecture.  Very disheartening on the part of NZ leadership to say the least. 

Virgin Blue - Velocity Rewards

12 May 2011

Total posts 20

NZ had stated in the past the challenges of profitability on the Trans Tasman market, I'm sure they've workshopped and modelled business class on A321 services and found the market wasn't willing to stump up. They're reasonably savvy and profitable so I'm sure there is a reason why. 
As to why give away potential market share of high margin premium customers?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 582

everyone seems to be forgetting that they do still offer options for J to SYD, MEL and PER to AKL, so they're not dropping it completely

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

I would expect to the A321 on the CHC - PER runs with more frequency...and that wouldnt be too good for a 6.5hrs trek.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 160

I was right that the A321's are going use to 3 aisle 3 seating at the pointy end.

There was talk within Air NZ, to have 9 rows of 3 aisle 3 seating in the 1st compartment but it seems the current plan is to have 10 rows as per Airbus specification with seat pitch 83 to 86cms. This will allow Air NZ to cater for its own and its airline partners premium customers in this compartment.

By keeping the same Airbus seating configuration for A321's, will allow Air NZ to use these aircraft for domestic, international short haul and charters.

The Works Deluxe product (being the middle seat not being used) is going to be retain across the A320/A321neo short haul international fleet.

Air NZ is planning to use the A321's for AKL to SYD/ADL/BNE/MEL/RAR/NAN routes as supplement to B777/B787 trans Tasman and Pacific services. There has talk of using the A321's for CHC to SYD/MEL during peak holiday periods.
It's absolutely awful! 

I never thought that Air NZ's current business model would attempt to outdo Jetstar. I pity those Pacific islanders who need more space!

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

08 Aug 2014

Total posts 39

Hate, hate HATE the Air NZ one-class A320 (and soon A321) slum class across the Ditch and I avoid it completely. It is totally grim, basic, cramped air travel with neon-type lighting, school-type regimentation (everybody sits there looking whipped while the meal trays remain uncollected for quite some time and has to cooperate like good little school kids when the rubbish collection comes through). As for a drink? One with your dinner and be grateful. Ask for more and you get the tweezer lips and a searching look to see if you are an alcoholic. Air NZ has always had a cheese-paring, nanny-type aspect to its culture - a Presbyterian primness that is part of the Kiwi psyche. At least though there is a hint that there will be more Air NZ wide-body services with P and J service - but even there you're not free of the wowsers.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

07 Sep 2012

Total posts 151

Air NZ management are sick of hearing their customers tell them how bad their J product is on Trans-Tasman flights compared to EKs, and this move tells us that they've effectively decided to abandon the fight. Even their Y product is inferior to EKs, so they're better off going for the lowest common denominator in this market in order to maximise profit

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