Air France’s first B787 has yet to be delivered. It’s currently on the Boeing assembly line in Seattle. But already we have an idea of what its interior will be like.
The first B787 for the French national airline is expected to join the carrier’s fleet towards the end of this year. Air France has yet to announce on which routes these long-haul B787s will be deployed.
Although the airline has yet to reveal its B787’s interior layout many details have been leaked by a French aviation newsletter.
According to Tyler Birth Air France’s B787 will be configured for three classes: business, premium economy and normal economy.
There will be 30 business class seats (42 ins pitch) configured 1-2-1, 21 premium economy seats (40 ins pitch) configured 2-3-2 and 225 regular economy seats (31 ins pitch) configured 3-3-3.
It comes as no surprise to see that the economy cabin will be configured 3-3-3 which (with the exception of Japan’s JAL) has become the norm amongst B787 operators.
Not so good is the fact Tyler Birth reports that Air France has removed one inch from the economy class pitch. The 31 ins of pitch is similar to KLM’s B787 economy class.
What is good to see is that Air France will provide the same spacious seating in business class as does partner KLM with its own B787s.
It is true that Air France has already retrofitted spacious 1-2-1 business class seating on a few B777-200ERs/B777-300ERs but many if not most of its long-haul fleet is still disposed six across (2-2-2) or seven across (2-3-2) even aboard its flagship A380s.
The downside with the new four-across business cabin appears to be the fact that pitch is reduced to 42 ins.
Initially I thought this was a misprint until I checked KLM’s B787 business cabin (which also has 30 seats) and discovered it was exactly the same.
With space being a precious commodity on any aircraft I guess it’s all swings and roundabouts.
So that would explain why Air France’s premium economy (with 2-3-2 seating) adopts a relatively generous pitch of 40 ins.
And that raises another question.
How long can its partner KLM continue without a proper premium economy cabin?
KLM’s nine-across (3-3-3) Economy Comfort is looking increasinly outdated (compared to other airlines’ premium economy cabins) although its 35 ins of pitch enables it to increase the seat count.
However its transatlantic JV partner Delta will soon adopting a proper premium economy cabin.
(see our feature in the September issue Premium economy: a cut above)
Skyteam members KLM/Delta work closely on key transatlantic routes with code-sharing, joint operations and so on.
Airlines tend to follow one another when it comes to new trends. Therefore one would expect KLM to follow its partners with a premium economy product in due course.