Image: Jenny Peters

APEX Media attended Air Tahiti Nui’s Dreamliner launch event in Los Angeles and spoke with the airline’s managing director and CEO about what makes the aircraft special.

Air Tahiti Nui celebrated the first of four Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners entering service last month with an event at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) last Thursday. The aircraft’s livery sports two bright red lines that symbolize the flag of French Polynesia.

Image: Jenny Peters

Until now, reaching French Polynesia on Air Tahiti Nui meant flying from Paris, Los Angeles, Tokyo or Auckland on an Airbus A340-300 with two classes of service (economy and business), in operation since the airline launched in 1996. “We are really entering into the new generation of aircraft, where everything has been studied for the comfort and health of the passengers,” the airline’s managing director Mathieu Bechonnet told APEX Media at the launch party, held at the Flight Path Museum located just off the LAX runways.

“The cabin in this aircraft has … a new air conditioning system that eliminates the dryness experienced in the older planes, because it is carbon and you can put water into it to keep the moisture in the air,” he elaborated. The air filtration system uses a state-of-the-art purification method that removes odors and gaseous contaminants, meaning fewer headaches for travelers, and less eye, nose and throat irritations, too.

Air Tahiti Nui Dreamliner

Moana premium economy class. Image via Air Tahiti Nui

The newly added Moana (“ocean”) premium economy class gives travelers the chance to fly in comfort without breaking the bank, with 32 Zodiac Aerospace Z535 seats in a 2-3-2 arrangement, offering 38-inches of pitch, a width of 19 inches and a seat recline of eight inches. “We know that there is a large part of the population that cannot afford to pay three times the price of economy to go to business, but they will pay $300 on a round trip to jump to a nicer seat, with better comfort and even more recline,” Bechonnet explained.

Ait Tahiti Nui Dreamliner

Poerava business class. Image via Air Tahiti Nui

The Poerava (“black pearl”) business class features 30 lie-flat Rockwell Collins seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. “We have a lot of couples who go [to Tahiti] for their honeymoon or anniversaries. So we needed it to be comfortable, not with big walls that separate people from each other,” Bechonnet said.

The name of the first Dreamliner reflects Air Tahiti Nui’s commitment to the environment, as Michel Monvoisin, the airline’s president and CEO, explained. “This first plane is called Fakarava, which is an island in the Tuamotu Island group that is classified by UNESCO as a special biosphere place on earth,” he said. “That is why we chose this name, because it is a symbol of how the airline is now very involved in protecting the environment. For example, with this aircraft, we will reduce our carbon footprint by 30 to 35 percent.”