Air France unveiled its new luxury first-class section this week. The airline’s “haute couture” suite will feature a seat that reclines into a bed stretching 6 ft 7 ins and 30 inches across — one of the most spacious in the world.
A total of 76 of the seats will be fitted into the airline’s 19 Boeing 777-300 jets at a cost of $70 million, the company said as it showed off the new offering.
“In 2012, we made a promise to identify which products (we needed to improve) to push Air France up into the ranks of the major airlines,” said the company’s CEO, Frederic Gagey. “Those 50 million euros were needed to propel Air France to the top of those companies.”
“It’s our clients who will judge the product. We are extremely proud of the result and extremely confident. The improvement in the range affects all of our classes and not only first,” he said.
First class occupies just a sliver of the air-travel market, with Air France’s 52,000 such customers a year representing an occupancy rate of 38 percent, 0.3 percent of total long-haul passengers and 1.8 percent of long-haul revenue, said Bruno Matheu, head of Air France’s passenger business.
But with return ticket prices averaging 9,000 euros ($12,500) across the company’s network the luxury seats are highly profitable and he said they “generate more revenue than if we filled that space with economy or business-class seats”.