The Suite Life

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While CAL may be elim­i­nat­ing first class soon, its CEO noted that it was cau­tiously look­ing into the pos­si­bil­ity of in­tro­duc­ing a new suites class stan­dard.“Many air­lines have elim­i­nated first class, and changed to busi­ness, pre­mium econ­omy and econ­omy class,”said Sun.“The talk that we’re hav­ing now is whether we should launch a suites class with much more lux­u­ri­ous ameni­ties and ser­vice. But we do not an­tic­i­pate very high de­mand for such an of­fer­ing.”

Sin­ga­pore Air­lines (SIA) was the pi­o­neer of the suites class, which it in­tro­duced on the A380 in 2007. How­ever, the air­line’s CEO Goh Choon Phong re­cently re­vealed that de­mand for the lux­ury class has been luke­warm, and SIA will be re­duc­ing ca­pac­ity ac­cord­ingly once the next batch of su­per­jum­bos is de­liv­ered.

“Go­ing for­ward, you can ex­pect we will be re­duc­ing the num­ber of suites on the A380s,”said Goh.“What that num­ber is, we’ll an­nounce in due course. But the idea is to al­ways bet­ter match de­mand and sup­ply.”

One area on the map that ap­pears im­mune to the quandary of first class is the Mid­dle East. Eti­had Air­ways’A380, which it re­ceived in 2014, fea­tures The Res­i­dence. A su­per-lux­ury three­room suite, it con­sists of a liv­ing room, bed­room and bath­room and is ac­com­pa­nied by a ded­i­cated Savoy-trained but­ler ser­vice. De­spite a hefty $32,000 price tag for a one-way flight be­tween Abu Dhabi and NewYork, the prod­uct has been a hit.

“We have ex­pe­ri­enced an over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive re­sponse to The Res­i­dence within the US – be­yond our ex­pec­ta­tions, in fact,” Eti­had’s chief ex­ec­u­tive James Ho­gan said last year.“We are see­ing healthy for­ward book­ings.”

The rea­sons for the con­tin­u­ing suc­cess of first and suites class in the Mid­dle East in­clude the large num­bers of su­per-wealthy busi­ness­men, politi­cians and roy­alty who reg­u­larly con­nect through the re­gion, and the fact that the big three Gulf car­ri­ers – Emirates, Eti­had and Qatar – have built their rep­u­ta­tions and brands largely around their lux­ury in-flight prod­ucts.

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