Air France will follow in British Airways’ footsteps when it launches domestic business class next year.
The plan is for the new product to appear in the first quarter of 2020, and the news was announced yesterday in Paris by CEO Anne Rigail.
Air France’s business class would resemble the product (both in the air and on the ground) it currently offers on short-haul international flights.
In other words there would be:
* SkyPriority and lounge access
* Dedicated front cabin
* Blocked middle seat
* Catering service to include Champagne, wine and deluxe snack(s).
The slide shown to investors this week
Why is Air France going to all this trouble for what are considered humble domestic routes?
Officially the airline would say it’s to do with consistency… it wants to offer domestic customers the same product it provides internationally.
Of course there will be a number of high-ranking business people booking domestic business class on a point-to-point basis.
However perhaps the main reason is that Air France wants to protect its premium market share from the regions.
Although, unlike in the UK, few foreign airlines fly long-haul from the French regions, their number has been growing.
So if a premium customer based in Lyons or Nice wants to fly to the Middle East or Asia he or she can now choose Emirates and expect business or first class service all the way.
But if he or she were to choose Air France it would either mean ‘roughing it’ in economy class to Paris or using air-rail to CDG airport.
It’s a similar situation in the UK, hence BA introduced domestic business class a couple of years ago.
Indeed when, as a prospective premium economy (not business or first) customer, I checked BA flights from Inverness and Edinburgh to the Far East I found myself automatically upgraded to business class on the domestic sector.
We shall update this piece as and when further information is received from Air France.