Air New Zealand is investing more than NZ$100 million (US$83m) to upgrade its fleet of Boeing 777-200ERs, bringing them in line with the rest of the airline’s long-haul fleet.
The retrofitting of the eight wide-body aircraft is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2014, with all B777-200ERs expected to be upgraded within 12 months. The 304-seat B777-200ER first entered service with Air NZ in 2005 and currently operates on a range of international routes.
“With the introduction of the 777-300ERs over the past 18 months and the arrival of the 787-9s in mid-2014, the 777-200ER fleet will be upgraded to align the product across all of the three long-haul fleet types,” said Norm Thompson, Air NZ’s Deputy CEO. “We will be delivering the latest technology to our customers, including the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system developed in conjunction with Panasonic which will bring the latest in technology with improved resolution and capacitive touch monitors to all seats in the aircraft.” he added.
Air NZ is the launch customer of the new Panasonic eXlite IFE system. The new entertainment system is lighter than its predecessors, cutting the overall weight of the aircraft and therefore reducing fuel burn.
“We challenged Panasonic to come up with a lighter, more cost effective version of our current system,” said Air NZ’s CEO, Rob Fyfe. “With eXLite, Air New Zealand will continue to offer state-of-the art entertainment to our passengers without compromising space, energy and experience.”
In addition to the new IFE system, the upgrade will see the ‘Business Premier’ seats on the B777-200ER upgraded to match those on the 777-300ER, and the complete replacement of the premium economy and economy class seats. This will include the introduction of Air NZ’s Skycouch product, which converts a row of three economy class seats to form a bed.
“Air New Zealand was the first to deliver a lie-flat sleeping experience to our economy customers through our hugely successful Skycouch product, and we are excited about enabling many more customers to experience this on our 777-200ERs,” said Thompson.
A number of aircraft will also have the new black and white Air NZ livery applied during the upgrade.