China Southern Airlines will reposition its first class cabin as business class in October.
The carrier is thought to have made the move, which comes into effect on October 26, to combat the impact of a crackdown by the Chinese government on wasteful departmental spending.
However, the change will only apply to single-aisle aircraft flying on domestic routes within the China mainland.
Passengers will enjoy the same benefits and service in the new business class as they currently do in first, CSA said. These include first class lounge access, frequent flyer accrual rates and points.
Whether or not the change will see a reduction in fare price is unknown.
At the moment, the airline offers three cabins — first, premium economy and economy.
Changing the first cabin to business is a response to the Chinese government’s highly-publicised anti-corruption campaign which has resulted in many officials abandoning business and, in particular, first class travel.
In a statement, CSA said the name change is “to satisfy market demand”.
Earlier this year, the airline unveiled the interior of its new B777-300ER aircraft (see news, March 28).