Air France has unveiled its new first class (branded as La Premiere) suite at a press event held in Shanghai, China today. Over the past few months, the French carrier has also rolled out new designs for its economy, premium economy (see here) and business seats (see here). The launch is part of the carrier' €500 million (US$696 million) "Best & Beyond" project that aims to upgrade its long-haul products and services.
According to Frederic Gagey, chairman and chief executive of Air France, the new generation seat will be fitted onto the carrier's long-haul fleet of 44 Boeing 777 aircraft, with the process set to start later this year and to be completed by 2016. The 19 Boeing 777-300s will be the first to receive the upgrade, with each of them featuring four of these new suites.
Passengers flying the Singapore and New York routes will be among the first to have a chance to try out the new product. As reported previously by Business Traveller Asia-Pacific (see here), Air France will soon be add a Jakarta leg to its Paris–Singapore service, and so the La Premiere suite will feature on the carrier's flights to the Indonesian capital as well. The airline will also introduce the suite to Shanghai, with the launch date tentatively set for Q1 of 2015.
Leather is predominantly featured in the La Premiere cabin, used for upholstering the headrests and armrests, as well as lining the walls. The seat itself is covered in a lush soft woven tweed fabric and various storage compartments are padded with suede, giving the whole environment a sophisticated and luxurious feel.
Certain elements of the suite have been the result of passenger feedback. According to Air France, it has received a mix of opinions regarding whether the suite should be enclosed or open. The ensuing solution was the introduction of a curtain to each seat, allowing the flexibility to have a fully opened suite, a partially opened suite, and a fully enclosed suite.
Each La Premiere suite sports a large dining/work table measuring 60x61cm, located in the seat's adjoining console. Depending on how the table is used, the suite can become a drawing room, a restaurant or a work area. The seat can turn into a two metres long fully flat bed at the push of a button. At this position, the armrests are fully retracted, thereby extending the bed's width to a full 77cm. Crew members will be on hand to line a mattress onto the seat, and provide a pillow and duvet produced by French hotel group Sofitel.
Finally for inflight entertainment, each seat is fitted with a 24-inch HD touchscreen television that offers close to 1,000 hours of programmes on demand. In addition, the navigation experience has been revamped, and is available in 12 languages. Meanwhile, the remote control is also equipped with a screen to display flight information, so that the passenger can check it anytime without having to interrupt the programme playing on the main screen.
Dimensions of the La Premiere suite:
Seat width: 57cm
Bed length: 2.01 metres
Bed width (armrests retracted): 77cm
Total length of suite: 2.30 metres
Total surface area: 3 sqm
For more information, visit www.airfrance.fr