Despite early speculation that Air New Zealand might add business class to its forthcoming Airbus A321neo jets, the Kiwi carrier opted to fit economy seats from tip to tail.
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.
According to Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon, the move was driven entirely by economics on the toughly-contested trans-Tasman route which the A320neo and A321neo jets will mostly fly.
"We have 1.3 million Kiwis going to Australia and we have 1.2 million Australians coming to New Zealand," said Luxon, speaking to Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of an international Star Alliance media briefing in Frankfurt.
"A lot of that is leisure-based travel, it's visiting friends and relatives, and when you do the maths on putting a business class in place it's really a very poor return... you've got to make the real estate on those aircraft work really well."
The A320neo and A321neo fleet will take on daytime duties across the pond while the Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 787 Dreamliners, with their lie-flat business class seats and premium economy recliners, fill the morning and evening slots desired by business travellers.
"It really becomes a frequency game, " Luxon explains. "We want high-quality product for corporate customers, which we get in the wide-boy Boeings, and we want massive frequency from the narrow-body A320neos and A321neos."
Luxon says the final configuration for the Airbus neo jets hasn't been locked down yet but will include the popular extra-legroom rows at the front of the aircraft.
"We're working through the configuration – the segmented product architecture of our Seats-to-Suit model works very well but we may fiddle around with that a little bit more on the Neos."
Luxon also hinted that Air New Zealand might shuffle its order for the aircraft, which currently sits at 9 of the A320neo planes and 4 of the larger A321neo jets, following the delay on the A321neo from late 2017 to 2018.
"It's a bit of a wait and see... the A320neo is linked a little bit into which order we take them in and the mix of it might change, we’re working through that now."
David Flynn travelled to Frankfurt as a guest of Star Alliance.