When Boeing delivers its first 777-300ER to Air New Zealand in November, the first 11 window rows of its economy class cabin will feature a new "Skycouch" to provide a lie-flat experience. As launch customer for the 787-9, the innovative new seat was intended to be introduced starting with the first delivery originally set for late 2010.
The airline hopes that two adults will purchase two seats and a third at roughly half the price to take advantage of the lie-flat Skycouch. No word yet on whether or not the seats will be restricted on low load factor flights, so there are definite questions on how they will manage the revenue on this very unique product.
The airline also plans to introduce a six-abreast 2-2-2 configuration for new angled Premium Economy seating (Photo below) that features a common table that Air New Zealand is comparing to business jet seats.
The economy and premium economy seats are a custom design by Air New Zealand and will be manufactured under license by Recaro and Contour, respectively. The airline hopes to sell that license to other airlines looking to introduce the economy lie-flat seats as well.
The 777-300ER will be configured with 340 seats, including 246 Economy class, 50 Premium Economy and 44 Business Premier seats.
Starting in December, the airline will fly the new economy seats on selected NZ5 and NZ6 on services as the new aircraft is introduced between Auckland and Los Angeles and dedicated return service on NZ1 and NZ2 between Auckland and London (Via Los Angeles) starting in April 2011 replacing 747-400 aircraft.
The airline will also retrofit its existing 777-200ER fleet from mid-2011 and by 2012 will have it on all Asian, North American and UK services. Air New Zealand's 787-9 will be delivered wit these seats starting in late 2013.
Also worth noting, the photo below of the business class seating (after the jump) appears to be the first shot of a future 787 cabin.
Also, as you can see in the vidcap to the right, the bottom of the windows feature the control buttons for the electro-chromatic windows, though in this particular shot they are covered with traditional window shades.
All the shots in the promotional video also appear to have been shot inside a mock up of the 787's cabin with the 18-inch tall windows and LED lighting. If nothing else, it definitely gives a first indication of what the -9 launch customer has planned for its interiors.
More photos below the fold.