China’s carriers get on board with super economy class growth trend
A new “super economy” class has been introduced recently in the cabins of the Boeing 747-8 and 777-300ER aircraft.
A new “super economy” class has been introduced recently in the cabins of the Boeing 747-8 and 777-300ER aircraft serving Air China’s Beijing-Guangzhou route.
At the same time, Air China is also refitting its Airbus A330-300 and Boeing B777-200 with super economy class seats that have already been generally adopted for its international flights. The super economy class seats have a seat pitch of 91 cm, about 10-15 cm more than regular economy class seats, offering passengers plenty of legroom.
Super economy seats are only slightly more expensive than full fare regular economy seats yet they offer services on a par with business and first-class passengers. Super economy class passengers on international flights get priority boarding over regular economy class passengers and each seat has an individual LCD entertainment console. Before takeoff, cabin crew will offer each passenger in super economy class a complimentary pack that includes bottled water, towel, newspaper and slippers.
An Air China executive said the super economy class will not only attract customers seeking service differentiation but will also satisfy the needs of official or corporate passengers who are officially barred from travelling on business or first class.
Super economy class has been increasingly adopted by China’s carriers. China Southern Airlines has been offering super economy class seats on its popular domestic flights from Guangzhou and Shenzhen to Beijing and Shanghai since 2010. China Southern’s subsidiary Chongqing Airlines replaced its luxury business class with super economy class in some of its A320 aircraft this January.
Last year, Shandong Airlines also changed the configuration of its newly delivered Boeing 737-800 aircraft from the traditional luxury class + economy class seating to eight first class seats in the front followed by 3-7 rows of 30 super economy seats in the middle of the cabin and 130 regular economy seats in the rear, according to its vice president for marketing Hang Jiang.
Using ultra-thin seats, Shandong Airlines’ super economy class seats manage to have a seat pitch of 86 cm, 9-12 cm or 16% more than that of regular economy seats. The airfare for the former is just RMB10 more than the latter, except on peak seasons in July, August and Spring Festival.
Sichuan Airlines also introduced super economy class seats in November 2013 with the tagline “enjoy luxury class service at a bargain”.
It is projected that the number of super economy class and business class seats on all China carriers will increase at an annual compound rate of 17.1% in between 2012 and 2022, from 14,000 to 70,000, compared to a compound annual growth rate of only 1.6% for first class seats in the same period, according to a market survey by IMS Research Center.(Translation by David)