Five star hotels have long been selling their exclusive pillow-top beds at whopping profit margins to well-heeled customers.
Now, Air New Zealand is taking the same tack, offering its award winning Skycouch seat to other airlines ... just as long as they don't compete for the same routes.
Australian Business Traveller reviewed the Skycouch earlier this year, commenting that while it was a step forward for an airline to formalise and improve on the long-haul travellers' dream -- a whole row of seats to sleep on -- it is still no lie-flat bed.
Air New Zealand representative Victoria Bamford gave FlightGlobal the scoop, saying it would license the seats in conjunction with manufacturer Recaro to non-competing airlines.
It is pitching the seat towards airlines looking to fit out their brand new 787 Dreamliners, though it will not be a Boeing factory-installed option and will be something airlines will have to bolt-in once the plane has been delivered.
Air New Zealand owns a patent on the design of the leg-rest, which provides the extra space beyond the basic seat cushion to lie on. So it's unlikely that we'll see knock-offs from other seat manufacturers any time soon.
The Kiwi airline's determination not to sell the seat to directly competing airlines almost certainly counts out Qantas, with which it has long had a tetchy relationship. Qantas has several times tried to merge or buy out the airline, but in between attempts, aggressively competes with it.
It might, or might not, count out Virgin Australia -- it is unclear because Virgin and Air New Zealand have formed alliance to split up their passengers travelling across the Tasman.
One interesting point SkyGlobal picked up is that Air New Zealand has a special mathematical seat pricing model that it is not planning to disclose to airlines that buy the seat. It says it will help them understand how to price tickets for the seat to make money, but won't give up its proprietary algorithm.