Air New Zealand's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to debut on Auckland-Perth

By David Flynn, November 7 2013
Air New Zealand's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to debut on Auckland-Perth

Air New Zealand has anointed the Auckland-Perth route for the debut of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner – the first of the stretched 787s due to arrive from Boeing late next year.

The first passenger flight will be on 15 October 2014, and will be shared with the Kiwi carrier's partner Virgin Australia, with tickets now on sale at and

Following the Auckland-Perth launch route will be flights from Auckland to Tokyo and Shanghai.

“The 787-9 is going to be a game changer for Air New Zealand and is a key element in delivering on our Go Beyond growth plan" promised Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon.

"Not only is the 787-9 around 20 percent more fuel efficient than the aircraft it’s replacing, it also sets a new benchmark for passenger comfort."

Each of Air New Zealand's ten Boeing 787-9s will see a three-class configuration of 18 seats in business class, 21 in premium economy and 263 in economy.

We've put together this quick video clip to showcase the seats themselves.

Photos, details: Air New Zealand's Boeing 787-9 seats

Keep up to date with the latest news for business travellers and frequent flyers: follow @AusBT on Twitter.


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.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

03 Aug 2013

Total posts 8

I wonder why they are Debuting Perth-Auckland instead of Sydney-Auckland or Melbourne-Auckland

The aircraft is optimal for "long range"... SYD-AKL, AKL-MEL is like a bus trip. AKL-PER is ~ 7-8hr flight...

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 735

Because PER is too far for an A320, but there's not enough traffic to justify a 777 -- or maybe there's slightly too much and they want to run a second flight per day.

Sydney and Melbourne are easily served with A320s so they can adjust capacity in small chunks.

07 Nov 2013

Total posts 1

Actually the AKL-PER-AKL route is served by a daily 777-200, and is one of Air NZ's most profitable routes. Empty seats on the flights are rare. Suppose that's why Qantas is jumping in on board with its own flights from December. I'm sure this news would make some of QF's people nervous

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 735

Alright then, I'm guessing they want to make even more money by flying two 787 flights a day instead of one 777. Or maybe a 777 and a 787, we shall see.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2204

Or it might just be a 787, now packed to the rafters; initially to free up the 772s for refurb, but perhaps also to allow them to use the 772 on other routes. It's also a fairly safe testing ground, given that much of the flight is overland across Australia.

NZ's 772 has fewer economy seats than their 789. The 772 is in a 26J/36W/242Y configuration, but the 789 is in a 18J/21W/263Y configuration. Oddly enough.

Since we're speculating, I'm sure it's potentially subject to change over the next few months, but I think this offers interesting insights into the NZ strategy. On the superficial level, the 789 is set to replace the 763. Which is fair enough, except that there are more 789s entering the fleet than there are 763s exiting. (The two remaining 744s are being replaced like-for-like by two new 773s.)

I'm inclined to think that NZ is in one of the ultimate long-and-thin positions of all airlines, and that the 789 is their growth tool. They have no need for more big machines - they are good to go with their 777 fleet - so the 789 is there to both pack off the 763s but also to grow NZ.

By going with a medium-J config, I think it offers an excellent tool for them to move forwards, especially to tackle the Asia Century and take on more Asian destinations, especially as they don't currently fly to places like Singapore (and a daily SIN flight only needs one plane).

But coming back to the Perth launch, I think that the route is a very good fit. It's safe in that it has the option to cross Australia by land (though it seems to go via Tasmania a lot), whereas the rest of the routes suitable for a 789 such as PVG or NRT consist primarily of very long ocean crossings.

It's currently served by a 772, which has fewer economy seats (but more business seats); I suspect that the route might not be so premium-heavy (or is one where NZ can levy a strong premium, being the only nonstop) which allows the lower-J config to rationalise the route.

I think it's a very, very sensible fit. It's just a shame the timings are so shocking. (PER 1750 | AKL 0515+1, really?)


British Airways - Executive Club

24 Jan 2012

Total posts 74

Any news on whether Air NZ have chosen a higher density 3-3-3 config or the more comfortable 2-4-2? If we go off their 777-300ERs, do we assume the former?

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 735

I'm almost certain they're going nine-abreast. Every airline except the two earliest adopters has. And NZ has made it clear that it thinks the future is all about seventeen-inch seats with six-inch aisles between them.

09 Jul 2011

Total posts 3

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 542

Hong Kong not in mind yet? Our 777-200s are off the charts right now in terms of chic and modernity.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 362

So stoked they have chosen Tokyo!!

15 Sep 2012

Total posts 93

Most likely they have chosen Auckland - Perth route as first route as this gives opportunity to fully test its performance and reliability before using on longer over water flights. 7-8 hour flight into strong head winds with close by alternates of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart depending upon route taken

13 Nov 2013

Total posts 5

Wow. That design looks amazing.

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