Austrian Airlines began work on revamping the cabin interiors of 29 Airbus A319, A320 and A321 aircraft. The reconfiguration will cost around €25 million ($28.4 million) and be completed in 2017.
“Our new business class is very attractive for our customers in the long-haul segment, but this appeal is missing on the continental fleet. In this case, we will have to spend money in order to significantly improve the product,” CCO Andreas Otto said.
He said the carrier believes a business-class product on European routes still makes sense, although just two percent of its passengers book this class.
Main changes include business class seat pitch increasing by two inches (five centimeters) from 30 inches (76.2 cm) to 32 inches (81.2 cm), as well as adding higher quality seat cushions.
Seat pitch in economy class of seven A319s and 16 A320s will be reduced by one inch (2.5 cm) from 30 inches (76.2 cm) to 29 inches (73.7 cm), thus corresponding to normal European standards in the airline sector, Austrian Airlines said in a statement.
The renovation of washrooms, including a rearrangement of toilets, will allow the addition of a row of economy-class seats.
The number of seats on the A320 will rise from 168 to 174. This means a capacity increase of 138 seats for the entire Airbus fleet, an increase of three percent or an entire medium-haul aircraft.
For every aircraft, 14 days of ground time are needed for completion of work, mostly during a C check in the lower traffic winter season. Revamping work will be carried out with the airline in Vienna, as well as with Lufthansa Technik Budapest and with another partner in Tallinn.
The Airbus A321, Embraer, Fokker and Bombardier fleets will not be impacted by the changes in the economy class.
Regarding the project of a premium economy class on its long-haul fleet, “That this is no topic for our current six Boeing 767-300ERs, but could be maybe for our five Boeing 777s which will be in service at least for the next six years,” Otto said.
A long-haul fleet rollover could be possible in 2020. Austrian will also study the introduction of Boeing 777-300ERs.
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