Air New Zealand set to bring Boeing 787-9 home to Auckland

By David Flynn, July 9 2014
Air New Zealand set to bring Boeing 787-9 home to Auckland

Air New Zealand now owns the world's first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, having formally taken deliver of the next-gen jet in Seattle on Tuesday evening (US time).

The Kiwi carrier will fly the Boeing 787-9 to its new home of Auckland on Thursday July 10 as flight number NZ6789, departing Seattle at 7am local time on a direct route to Auckland, where it will arrive around 4pm local time on Friday July 11.

(Australian Business Traveller will be travelling on the delivery flight as a guest of Air New Zealand.)

Boeing handed Air New Zealand the keys to the 787-9, which is a larger and longer-range variant of the original 787-8, at a celebration held at the Everett facility where the Dreamliners are built, along with other twin-aisle jets such as the Boeing 777 and 747.

The coming-out party for the Boeing 787-9, decked out in Air New Zealand's eye-catching 'all black' livery, also featured chart-topping US country rock group The Band Perry.

The light show at times turned the Boeing 787's all-black livery into purple and ultraviolet.

Air New Zealand Chief Financial Officer Rob McDonald, standing in for airline CEO Chris Luxon, praised the economic benefits of the Boeing 787-9 over current and conventional aircraft.

"This plane was built for Air New Zealand" McDonald said, adding that the Dreamliner "will be a game-changer for our business."

"One of the major drawcards of the 787-9 is its fuel efficiency, and given New Zealand's relative geographic isolation we have a natural bias towards long-haul flights."

"The ever-changing price of jet fuel brings aircraft efficiency into very sharp focus for us" McDonald explained.

"The cost of a barrel of jet fuel is more than 180 percent higher today than it was when we first placed our 787-9 order."

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,

For Air New Zealand this first of ten Boeing 787-9s represents the continued renewal of its fleet, which also includes deliveries of more Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to tap long-range routes plus thirteen Airbus A320neo and A321neo jets to sharpen its competitive edge against Qantas on the trans-Tasman market.

The Dreamliner will make its own trans-Tasman runs from Auckland to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane prior to its official debut on the Auckland-Perth route from October 15.

Read: Air New Zealand gears up for Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner’s debut

Flights between Auckland and Shanghai, as well as Auckland-Tokyo in September and Christchurch-Tokyo in October as the airline's second and third 787-9s are delivered.

Perth, Shanghai and Tokyo will be Air New Zealand's first three 787-9 routes for 2014. Air New Zealand
Perth, Shanghai and Tokyo will be Air New Zealand's first three 787-9 routes for 2014
Air New Zealand

Boeing holds orders for some 413 of the 787-9s, which many airlines say represents 'sweet spot' for passenger capacity and range.

The 787-9 is only 6 metres (20 feet) longer than the 787-8, but that's enough room for around 40 more seats or a score of first class suites, depending on how the aircraft is fitted out.

The even longer Boeing 787-10, due in the 2018-2019 timeframe, will carry up to 320 seats in a typical three-class configuration.

PREVIOUS | Boeing's first 787-9 for Air New Zealand has broken cover, clad in stunning 'all black' livery as befits the flagship of the Kiwi carrier's Dreamliner fleet.

Most of its nine siblings will carry the more standard white-and-black treatment seen below.

Most of AirNZ's Dreamliners will carry this white-and-black colour scheme. Air New Zealand
Most of AirNZ's Dreamliners will carry this white-and-black colour scheme
Air New Zealand

But as slick as that livery is, we think you'll agree that this bold black beauty is even more eye-catching.

Here's a photo gallery of the Boing 787-9's first outing in its new stripe, courtesy of a Seattle-based and slightly sodden Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren at

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,
Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,
Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,
Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,
Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,
Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,
Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren,

Air New Zealand played host to Boeing's 787-9 test aircraft in January this year as the next-gen jetliner underwent extensive testing, including a week spent basking (or should that be baking?) and then flying under the Australian outback's sizzling summer sun.

If you're curious about what the inside of these special test aircraft looks like, check out the exclusive Australian Business Traveller gallery of Boeing's 787-9 Dreamliner ZB002.

Photos: Inside Boeing's 787-9 test aircraft

Inside Air New Zealand's Boeing 787-9

Each of Air New Zealand's 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.

The pointy end of Air NZ's Boeing 787-9 will see 18 of the familiar Business Premier seats already seen on the airline's flagship Boeing 777s.

The lie-flat business class seats are arranged in a 1-1-1 herringbone layout so that every passenger has direct aisle access.

The seat is fitted with a 'memory foam' mattress, duvet and two full size pillows.

Less familiar are the Premium Economy seats, with Air NZ choosing a more standard 'off the shelf' design instead of its Spaceseat (show below).

AirNZ's Spaceseat has been dropped from the Boeing 787

The 787-9's premium economy seats have been sourced from US seat designer Zodiac, with Air New Zealand calling them "a customised seat best described as Business-lite."

Arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration, the seats have a 41” pitch and 5” wide armrest, with a generous 9" recline, integrated leg rest and extendable foot support.

There are 21 premium economy seats in this stand-alone cabin, which also has its own dedicated bathroom facilities.

Read: Air New Zealand “remains committed” to premium economy Spaceseat

The bulk of Air New Zealand's Boeing 787-9 is given over to two economy cabins with all seating in a 3-3-3 layout.

This includes 14 Skycouch rows of three seats where the legrests and armrests flip all the way up to convert into a 'sofa-like' flat surface.

The Skycouch rows have a 33" pitch compared to the 31-32" of standard economy seats.

Air NZ's Boeing 787-9 seat chart shows (in green) the 14 Skycouch rows in the first economy cabin
Air NZ's Boeing 787-9 seat chart shows (in green) the 14 Skycouch rows in the first economy cabin

Read: Testing Air New Zealand's Skycouch on the 777-300ER

The rest of the economy cabin will be fitted with a standard economy seat from Zodiac but customised to Air New Zealand's specifications including a slimline seat back for more space, sculpted upholstering and a more flexible headrest.

Also read: Qantas sets its sights on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


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.

undertheradar Banned
undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 654

i actually prefer the white fuselage/black back n tail version..but they should have deleted the 'old tail fern' altogether...and moved the new fuselage fern further back and up the tail...the 'air new zealand' font at the front of fuselage would still identify the airline

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 363

Amazing aircraft for an amazing airline

Air Canada - Aeroplan

07 Apr 2014

Total posts 6

It's quite interesting to me that Virgin Atlantic manages to fit 1-2-1 in its 330s but Air New Zealand can only fit 1-1-1 in a wider frame. I also would have liked to see a new J seat like CXs, which AC is adding to their dreamliners, and they manage 4 abreast vs. ANZ's 3. 

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 340

You right, Virgin Atlantic dove tail their herringbone layout on their A330s.

Interesting that Air New Zealand haven't followed this layout since they use the same seat design as Virgin Atlantic.

10 Sep 2012

Total posts 149

I loathe the herringbone setup, and actively avoid flying with airlines that use it.


I like the black and the fern.  It will be good to see a photo with the aircraft in full profile, rather than the angled shots. 

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 442

That is a sexy, sexy plane. I know 90% of airlines paint their planes white as white paint is cheaper but NZ would have such a distinct advantage if they painted more of their planes black!

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

07 Apr 2014

Total posts 3

wahhh its look nz!!!


Air NZ Airpoints

12 Mar 2014

Total posts 36

Yes, but... nine across in economy... ouch!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2012

Total posts 41

Would like to see the 789 in the 'Pacific Wave' livery. Although that is never gonna happen. I must be one of only a few that really don't like the 'All Black' livery. Oh well, still a beautiful aircraft.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Sep 2012

Total posts 240

It's ironic that most publicity shots for NZ's spaceseat premium economy product over the last 3-4 years since launch have used the 787 interior.

And now that aircraft isn't even receiving that product!

Yes that is a little unusual that they're not putting the spaceseat on the 789.  I'm flying ANZ Prem Econ to SFO on the 773 in a week and a half, so will be interesting to see how comfortable the spaceseat is.  Some seem to love it, others find it uncomfortable.  I've been wanting to try it for a while but have been bumped up to Business a few times, (not that I'm complaining at all! - I love their business product). 

I also agree they should have moved the new fern design up and along the tail of the 789, and perhaps placed a smaller version of the current ANZ tail logo at the front of the ANZ wording along the side.  

Whilst I like the increased pitch in premium economy of 41 inch compared to 38 inches on other airlines, I wouldn't fly Air NZ PE because it costs too much.

Choosing a number of different dates to fly from Melbourne to London, these are Air NZ PE prices, $5,362 (sale), $5746 (normal). $6088 (peak).

And you pit that against Qatar Business Class $6257 (almost all year round)

Royal Brunei Business Class $5045 (sale), $6,025 (normal) $6,428 (peak).

Air NZ recliner seat with 41 inch pitch, improved food and wine, no lounge access, priority board and baggage.

or Qatar, angled or fully flat bed, improved food and wine, Premium Terminal at London Heathrow and Doha, priority boarding baggage etc.

or Royal Brunei (flat bed), Etihad lounge access at Heathrow, Cathay Pacific lounge in Melbourne, improved food but no wine, priority etc.

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