- Auckland-Perth scheduled route will begin mid-2014
- Air New Zealand is the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner's first customer
- Airline's economy cabins will feature 14 Kiwi-designed Skycouch rows
New Zealand's national airline announced the world's first scheduled route for Boeing's 787-9 Dreamliner on Thursday.
As the latest Dreamliner's first customer, Air New Zealand will be flying the launch aircraft from Auckland, where the airline is based, to Perth, in Western Australia starting in October 2014.
A cabin mock-up was revealed as part of the announcement at the opening of the airline's Customer Innovation and Collaboration Centre in Auckland.
The launch aircraft will offer 302 seats total, with the business premier cabin housing 18 lie-flat seats, a premium economy cabin with 21 seats and two economy cabins with 263 seats total.
The plane will also have 14 Skycouch rows -- a design unique to the Kiwi airline that turns a row of three economy seats into a three-seater "couch."
New features also include a slimmer seat back due to more compact inflight entertainment monitors, allowing more personal space for the passenger.
Following the Auckland-Perth route, Air New Zealand will be flying its fleet of 10 787-9 aircraft on Auckland-Tokyo and Auckland-Shanghai routes.
More on the Dreamliner
The 787-9 is a bigger version of its predecessor, the 787-8. Able to hold 40 more passengers, the 20-foot-longer Dreamliner also has a greater range of 8,000-8,500 nautical miles, compared to the 787-8's range of 7,650-8,200.
Marketed for its fuel efficiency -- it uses 20% less fuel than other aircraft of its size -- the new plane also offers lower seat-mile costs (the cost to fly a single seat one mile).
So far, orders for the 787-9 have accounted for 40% of all 787 orders, with 26 customers ordering 396 aircraft.
Boeing announced on Thursday that the second 787-9 aircraft had completed its first flight from Everett, Washington to Seattle.