Air New Zealand is trying real hard to keep the lid on a covert operation to update their long-haul business class Business Premier product. According to the NZ Herald, the airline has literally rented space in a building near its downtown Auckland headquarters to develop new business seats in time for the delivery of its next generation long-haul planes as well as retrofits for the existing fleet.
While the airline is not releasing details of the project, the test site has been dubbed ”Hangar 22” and for the past month a handful of its customers, including some of its most frequent long-haul flyers have started trialling early-stage product development. The new business class seats are likely to lead to new versions of premium economy and economy seats in other parts of the plane.
Participants are apparently being asked to sleep on lie-flat seats for hours while sampling new food and entertainment options. Even executives are not allowed to enter Hangar 22 without an innovation team escort.
An interesting US partner has also emerged:
Consultants from United States firm IDEO have been Auckland. That firm has worked on projects ranging from an early mouse for Apple computers, a Levis trucker jacket with wearable technology to designing instruments for faster, more accurate spinal surgery.
Virgin Atlantic was the first airline to use herringbone seats on their aircraft, but Air New Zealand was not far behind over a decade ago.