Home' Australian Aviation Magazine : March 2011 Contents MARCH 2011 AUSTRALIAN AVIATION
Indeed, when Douglas Aircraft Com-
pany designed its DC-8 jet in 1955 it set
the aircraft's giant panoramic windows at
102cm apart so each seat row would have a
magni cent view.
e result of the contrasting drivers
was an abyss in price and product that has
begged to be lled for decades.
In parallel the population has become
taller, wider and wealthier, none of which
has been lost on born again Air New Zea-
land, which has recovered in spectacular
style from its own brush with a nancial
abyss caused by its foray into ownership
In just 10 short years Air New Zealand
has lled a trophy cupboard with awards,
the latest being Air Transport World 's 2010
'Airline of the Year' and Conde Nast 'Best
Long Haul Leisure Airline'.
And the airline warns its competitors
that you haven't seen anything yet, and that
warning should be heeded as the airline's
long term plans are as ambitious as they are
Air New Zealand has returned choice
to economy passengers who will now have
four distinct product options from the
standard seat to its world leading pre-
In doing so it has also tapped the rapidly
growing market for those who are scream-
ing "I have had enough" of the relentless
drive to dehumanise ying.
For Air New Zealand the delivery of
its rst 777-300ER was the culmination
of a nine-year journey to reinvent itself.
It is a reinvention, highlighted by the
777-300ER's groundbreaking interior, that
begs a comparison with Qantas's agship,
Qantas turned to well known and
internationally respected designer Marc
Newson to design the interior of its A380,
and there is no argument he created a
magni cent interior with award winning
seats in rst, business and economy class
from a design perspective.
In fact, the airline touted it as the rst
aircraft cabin ever designed from the
ground up by an interior designer. But the
features in the economy seats were re ne-
ments in the status quo, not a leap for ward.
Air New Zealand on the other hand has
challenged that status quo -- like no other
airline in recent times -- and is walking
It is an issue with fascinating dynam-
ics, given Qantas's share of the inbound/
outbound Australian market continues
to shrink, while Australians themselves
expand in height and width.
Australians are the second tallest people
in the western world and have obesity
levels just behind Americans. e Australa-
sian Society for the Study of Obesity says
that the lean, athletic, bronzed Aussie is
a myth, with research showing that more
than half of all Australian women (52 per
cent) and two-thirds of men (67 per cent)
are overweight or obese.
Certainly, Qantas has added premium
economy, but it is well behind Air New Zea-
land's premium economy o ering. And it
seems a toe in the water given Qantas has 32
premium economy seats in its A380 while
the smaller Air NZ 777-300ER has 50.
It is true that Qantas's A380 standard
economy seats are one inch wider that on
Air New Zealand's 777-300ER, but the kiwi
airline o ers its passengers a host of options
to select -- and pay for -- their level of addi-
tional space, including the seat next to them,
if available, for just $150 per sector.
e Air New Zealand product is clearly
a new competitive threat, which begs the
question, will Qantas be forced to innovate
in response, or continue to see its market
share decline further?
Australians big and tall will be watching.
THE X FACTOR
Air New Zealand's willingness to inno-
vate seems indicative of a corporate culture
that has a certain 'X factor'.
From the journalist 's perspective
delivery ights of a new aircraft or
inaugural ser vices are always informative
and enjoyable, especially given the access
to senior management from the airline
and manufacturers in what is typically a
But the Air New Zealand 777-300ER
delivery tellingly showed just how much
most other airlines lack that X factor.
And how do you de ne the X factor?
Well it was so many di erent aspects on
A revolution in economy class was a very
good start and a new way of preparing and
presenting meals was another, while a giant
leap in the way passengers are entertained
also had plenty of bouquets.
But what was inspirational was seeing
lucky airline sta who had won a competi-
tion to be part of the ight hugging CEO
Rob Fyfe as they boarded the plane in Los
Angeles. Some were even in tears.
And those same sta and other guests
were found to be singing traditional Maori
songs at 2am in the morning. Virtually
every Air New Zealand sta member you
talk to speaks in glowing terms of their
airline and its management.
It's an X factor few airlines can claim.
While New Zealand may be at the bot-
tom of the world its airline is at the top of
TOUCHDOWN ZK-OKM lands in Auckland on December 24 at the end of its delivery flight from Seattle via LA. (Mike Millett)
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