Cathay warms to premium economy

11 Mar 2010 by AndrewGough

It now seems likely that Cathay Pacific will, as expected, offer passengers a premium economy cabin within a couple of years.

According to a report on our sister Asia-Pacific website ( Cathay Pacific chairman Christopher Pratt says his airline was keen to roll out the new [premium economy] seats by 2012.

Changes in passenger demand would seem to have persuaded the Hong Kong-based carrier to opt for the new product.

Cathay Pacific believes a premium economy cabin would help increase passenger revenue in these tricky economic times. Having a premium economy cabin could help Cathay Pacific capture a clientele looking to trade down from business class – for reasons of cost-cutting – as well as encourage those wishing to trade up from economy class.

As yet no details are available of the seating. It remains unclear as to whether Cathay Pacific will offer a premium economy product along the lines of its Oneworld alliance partner Qantas or whether it will upgrade to the higher standards about to be set by Star alliance rivals such as Japan’s ANA and Air New Zealand.

The news will come as no great surprise to readers of On January 12 (see “Cathay Pacific mulls premium economy”) we reported on the fact that the airline had been soliciting its Marco Polo loyalty club members for their views on premium economy. It would seem that Marco Polo members’ reaction has been judged to be positive.

Cathay Pacific is a regional rival to SIA. So will the Singaporean flag-carrier follow suit?

When questioned by Business Traveller on numerous occasions, SIA has always maintained there was no need for it to offer a separate premium economy cabin. SIA spokespeople claim their economy class seats on the latest generation of A380s, B777-300ERs and A330s are a match for other carriers’ premium economy products.

Although that claim may have been true in the past (when other carriers’ premium economy cabins were less advanced) it is hardly true today seeing as many carriers have (or are poised to) upgrade their products (see Focus, Business Traveller magazine March 2010) with more spacious seating and more amenities.

We await developments with interest.

Report by Alex McWhirter and Margie Logarta

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