Air NZ unveils Dreamliner on Perth route
Air New Zealand will fly the first of its new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft on the Perth to Auckland run, in a move that will raise the level of competition facing Qantas on trans-Tasman routes.
The airline will be the first to receive the stretched version of the Dreamliner - the 787-9 - next year, albeit years after it was originally slated to take delivery of the aircraft.
The airline has also unveiled the layout for its fleet of 787-9s, which will feature 18 lie-flat seats in business class, and premium economy in a two-three-two seat configuration. The two economy cabins of the aircraft will seat 263 passengers.
Following the deployment of its first new planes on the Perth-Sydney route, the airline will fly what it describes as its "game-changer" aircraft from Auckland to both Tokyo and Shanghai.
Last year Air New Zealand, which has an alliance with Virgin Australia on the trans-Tasman route, boosted capacity between Perth and Auckland by replacing a Boeing 767 with a 777 aircraft.
Qantas also announced recently that it would add twice-weekly services using an A330 aircraft on the Perth-Auckland route from early December to the end of January.
Air New Zealand's decision to ramp up the competition on the Tasman comes as Jetstar received approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to put the first of its Dreamliners into service.
Jetstar's first 787-8 plane, which is shorter than Air New Zealand's model, will be flown from Melbourne to the Gold Coast and Cairns for a month before it is put on the Melbourne to Bali run.
The budget airline is due to receive two more 787s before the end of the year. It will eventually have a total fleet of 14 Dreamliners.