Cathay Pacific to launch premium economy class
Cathay Pacific will introduce premium economy seats to its fleet in the second quarter of 2012.
The premium economy seats will be laid out like the Hong Kong-based airline’s regional business class seats, but will be cheaper than business class.
"We'll have great recline and plenty of leg space," said Cathay Pacific chief executive John Slosar. "The meal service will be improved and little extras will leave anyone who chooses Cathay Pacific’s premium economy feeling they really got value for their money."
The new premium economy section will be fitted on all of the airline’s long-haul routes to Europe, North America, Australia and the Middle East.
Premium economy trade-up
Premium economy class, already adopted by many international carriers, is seen by experts as the new battleground on long-haul flights.
"Premium economy doesn't cannibalize your business class passenger -- actually, people trade up from economy to premium economy," said CNN airline and aviation correspondent Richard Quest.
Premium economy class also aims to ensnare business travelers who are forbidden to fly business class by their companies in the current economic climate, Quest said.
"A lot of this comes from the SKIs too -- Spending Kid’s Inheritance," said Quest. "They’re in the upper middle class, and don’t want to sit next to the backpackers in economy, so they think 'Let's splash out'."
Twice as expensive
Air New Zealand, Qantas, Japan Airlines, British Airways and United Airlines are some of the carriers who have introduced -- and in some cases systematically expanded -- premium economy sections to their fleets.
A premium economy ticket for a trans-Pacific flight generally costs 60 percent less than business class, but is still 95 percent more expensive than a standard economy fare, according to SeatGuru.com.
For the price difference, passengers in premium economy get roughly 50 percent less legroom than business class travelers, according to the website.
Cathay Pacific’s premium economy seats will be installed at the same time as their new business class seats; installation is due to be completed by the end of 2012.