Everyone loves a good mystery, but Air New Zealand does not seem to have created the kind of speculation it would have hoped for with its latest offering.
The airline has shared a photo on social media on Monday morning by engineering crews who walked towards two giant doors with the number 22, and teased their followers with the caption “After 5 years, the doors to Hangar 22 finally open”.
For some, the post brought to mind “Area 51”: the US desert military base that conspiracy theorists believe the government uses to study captured alien aircraft.
Others just wanted to know when the airline, which still has a crisis in the contact center, would answer their calls.
* Air NZ Details plans to relocate headquarters to refurbished ‘campus’ at Auckland Airport
* Sneak peek at Air New Zealand’s new, luxurious business seats
* “Brown-breaking” Air New Zealand economy sleeping pods basically just bunk beds
“Is that where the customer service staff has been locked in? Or is that where the only person who is able to answer a phone is sitting?” asked one person.
«What’s in Hangar 22? Emails you do not reply to or a PBX with disk space for never repeating hold music? » said another.
Hangar 22 is the airline’s top secret product development facility – an “innovation laboratory” where highly confidential new products are tested and adjusted, sometimes over the years.
This is where the airline developed its potentially groundbreaking ‘Economy Skynest’ prototype, which would allow economy passengers to lie flat in “sleeping pillows”.
For the past five years, the airline has been working on new deluxe business class seats with sliding doors for privacy.
The “Business Premier Luxe” seats were unveiled in a submission to the US Department of Transportation earlier this year, and will be located in the front of the business class cabin of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. In the archive, they are referred to as “suites”, which will be about as long as a queen-size mattress.
Air New Zealand requested that the seats be approved by 29 April 2022 “so that they can proceed with certification and installation”, indicating that they are eager to have them ready for the launch of their new non-stop service from Auckland to New York in September.
With several international routes set to resume in July, the time seems ripe for a refurbishment of the aircraft that have collected mothballs in stock.
The airline is hosting an event Monday afternoon that may or may not reveal everything. Guests are set to visit the innovation laboratory “to experience the future of aircraft first hand as we reimagine our cabin from tip to tail.”
Which suggests that there is more to this makeover than a few new business class seats. Stay tuned for more.