Air New Zealand has unveiled a new lie-flat sleep pod prototype, called Economy Skynest, following three years of research and development at its Hangar 22 innovation centre.
The Economy Skynest would contain six full-length sleep pods at 200cm long and 58cm wide each. The pods will be equipped with a full-size pillow, sheets and blanket, ear plugs along with privacy curtains and lighting designed for sleep. Air New Zealand is also exploring other features such as separate reading light, personal device USB outlet and ventilation outlet.
The Skynest will be positioned in the economy cabin, however, the exact positioning within the aircraft cabin is still to be confirmed.
Air New Zealand Chief Marketing and Customer Officer Mike Tod says that as the airline operates some of the world’s longest flights, such as the upcoming Auckland-New York service at up to 17 hours 40 minutes one way, it is committed to putting “more magic back into flying”.
“We have a tremendous amount of development work underway looking at product innovations we can bring across all cabins of the aircraft. 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,” Tod commented.
The airline will make a final decision on whether to operate the Economy Skynest next year after it has assessed the performance of its inaugural year of Auckland-New York operations.
General Manager of Customer Experience, Nikki Goodman said customer and cabin crew feedback on the Economy Skynest during its final phase of development has been “outstanding” with significant partners also keenly involved.
“We’re sure this innovation is going to be a game changer for the industry and bring significant improvements to long-haul flying. We expect other airlines will want to explore licensing the Economy Skynest from us just as they have with the Economy Skycouch,” she explained.
Air New Zealand’s Head of Airline Programmes Kerry Reeves, also added: “At Air New Zealand, we continue to nurture a can-do attitude, we’re not afraid of being bold and trying new things. 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.”
Reeves explained that 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, the airline’s economy seats that can be turned into a couch after take-off.