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Local designs Air NZ pods

Kate Cameron-Donald of Masterton and Zoe Wenn stand in front of their Skynest pod. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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Masterton designer Kate Cameron-Donald is looking forward to stretching out on Air New Zealand long-haul flights in her “Skynest”, if her design for Air New Zealand passes the customer testing phase.

So far, “the feedback is positive”, she said.

The Skynest is an addition to Air New Zealand’s already successful Skycouch, a row of three economy seats that convert into a flat, flexible surface for rest, relaxation, and play.

The Skycouch design was first introduced in 2011 and “has always been popular with young families”, Nikki Goodman, Air New Zealand’s general manager customer experience, said.

Last April, the airline won a Crystal Cabin Award in Hamburg for enhancements to the design which included a new infant pod. The Crystal Cabin Award is the only international award for excellence in aircraft interior innovation.

Cameron-Donald said she and fellow-designer of the Economy Skynest pods, Zoe Wenn, had been friends for many years having worked together on many other projects.

“We know each other’s skills inside out and complement each other really well,” Cameron-Donald said.

“Initially, it was just a crazy idea floating around, however we decided to take it further, and undertook some early customer testing.

“Our first design and prototype was very rudimentary, but the positive response from our customers suggested that it was an idea worth pursuing.”

Air New Zealand chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod said Air New Zealand was “committed to putting more magic back into flying”.

There was a tremendous amount of development work being done on product innovations that could be introduced across all sections of the company’s aircraft, he said.

Although working out the Skynest design was a more intricate process than the Skycouches, Tod said “a clear pain point for economy travellers on long-haul flights is the inability to stretch out” such as on the Auckland-New York flight, beginning in October, which will take 17 hours and 40 minutes.

The development of the Economy Skynest was a direct response to that challenge.

“To add to the challenges, is the fact that it’s a completely new concept onboard a commercial aircraft,” Cameron-Donald said.

“It was vital that we understood the Skynest as an entire experience, rather than just a stand-alone product.”

Each bed area will include a full-size pillow, sheets, blanket, earplugs, and a privacy curtain, along with lighting designed for sleeping.

Air NZ will make a final decision on whether to operate the Economy Skynest next year after assessing the performance of its Auckland-New York operations in its first year, Air NZ external communications manager Anna Cross said.

“We launch our New York service at the end of October this year.”


  1. Great idea.
    Please extend/continue your service to London perhaps via Singapore!! If not this could impact on the popularity of this product. I think it will be a ‘hit’ and capture a great market share on NZ to London route.

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