A prototype sleeping pod for economy passengers has been unveiled by Air New Zealand.

The airline today filed patent and trademark applications for the Economy Skynest which provides six full length lie-flat sleep beds.

Air New Zealand will make a final decision on whether to install the Economy Skynest next year after assessing the first year of 17 hour 40 minute Auckland-New York flights.

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Chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod said: “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.”

Customer experience general manager Nikki Goodman added: “We see a future flying experience where an economy-class customer on long-haul flights would be able to book the Economy Skynest in addition to their economy seat, get some quality rest and arrive at their destination ready to go.

“This is one of the highlights of three years’ intensive work centred on customer wellbeing.

“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.”

Head of airline programmes Kerry Reeves said 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.