Air New Zealand is currently working on a world-first lie-flat prototype for economy class travellers.
Dubbed the “Economy Skynest”, the product has spent three years in R&D, with the input of more than 200 customers at the airline’s Auckland-based Hangar 22 innovation centre. Now it seems like what is essentially six Economy bunk beds is closer to reality – the airline has this week officially filed patent and trademark applications.
“We have a tremendous amount of development work underway looking at product innovations we can bring across all cabins of the aircraft,” said Air New Zealand Chief Marketing and Customer Officer Mike Tod. “A clear pain point for economy travellers on long-haul flights is the inability to stretch out. The development of the Economy Skynest is a direct response to that challenge.”
This comes ahead of Air New Zealand introducing one of the world’s longest flights, that being an Auckland-New Zealand service clocking in at around 17h40m one-way.
The final decision won’t be made until next year, but for now the airline is reporting substantial interest in the product, which is easily a game changer on just about every level for those who don’t want to splash on Business.
“At Air New Zealand, we continue to nurture a can-do attitude, we’re not afraid of being bold and trying new things,” said Air New Zealand’s Head of Airline Programmes Kerry Reeves. “The question is never ‘can we do this’ but instead ‘is it right to do this for our customers?’ and, if so, ‘how will we do this?”
“Our ability to take a good idea, to execute and deliver an innovation that works in our environment, our market and for our people and customers gives us an edge.”
Mr Reeves says the scale of the challenge in developing the Economy Skynest and working through its certification with the necessary regulators is immense compared with the development of the Economy Skycouch.
“But it was a prize worth chasing and one that we think has the potential to be a game changer for economy class travellers on all airlines around the world.”