Lufthansa has revealed further details about the introduction of premium economy seating next year.
Speaking in Hong Kong to introduce the Boeing 747-8 aircraft which has just debuted on the route from Frankfurt to the city, Lufthansa’s vice president, sales and services Europe, Gotz Ahmelmann revealed that the seat will probably be unveiled at the ITB trade fair in Berlin in March 2014. The retrofit of the new cabin on all existing intercontinental aircraft will then begin from the end of the second quarter of 2014.
Ahmelmann said that the seat will be much quicker to fit to existing aircraft than the current business class upgrade, on which Lufthansa is spending “one million Euros per day”, and will not take “two or three weeks of the aircraft on the ground to fit”, but could be installed on a much swifter time frame. He also added that premium economy is only planned for “Lufthansa Classic ”, in other words not for the Swiss or Austrian Airlines’ long haul fleet.
Although Ahmelmann would not be drawn on the exact details of the seat, he did say that Lufthansa is “…not just increasing leg room, it will be more than that. It will be seats with more amenities.”
Ahmelmann said that Lufthansa had considered the possibility of “dilution” of business class by the introduction of premium economy (i.e.: passengers downgrading from business to premium economy), but considered the new seat necessary.
“We see companies saving money on booking trips, stricter travel policies for their staff, and it is quite honestly one of the reasons for bringing in premium economy, to give travellers a possibility within economy to find a more appealing product.”
Lufthansa said it was too early to reveal pricing, but added: “…it would be closer to economy pricing than business”.
Ahmelmann was keen to emphasise that the introduction of premium economy did not mean that first class would be removed from any aircraft, and said that some 70 per cent of the long haul fleet had first class, and that percentage would remain. Where premium economy was added it would make Lufthansa a four-class carrier, and those aircraft currently offering economy and business class would become three-class.