After four years in development, Air France today unveiled new cabins that bring better entertainment and more legroom to economy class flyers and complete privacy and comfort to business class passengers.
The improvements, although impressive in their attention to detail for passengers and efficiencies for the airline, were a necessary undertaking in today’s competitive aviation environment.
Click through the slideshow above for a look at Air France’s new cabins and New York City exhibition.
Etihad went over the top with its residence suites, SAS kept its new cabin designs smart and functional, British Airways’ new short-haul cabins look cleaner and more contemporary, and Asiana pairs a harder design with service surprises.
“There is no economic area more competitive than air transportation. There’s very high standards; therefore, you have to adapt very quickly and keep improving,” explains Bruno Matheu, Air France’s chief officer of long-haul passenger activity in a conversation with Skift.
“I used to say it was not a choice, it was an obligation. We were obliged to do it.”
By the summer of 2017, Air France will have invested more than one billion euros in improving its in-flight products. The first part of the roll-out will see forty-four 777 jets refitted.
Although Matheu is open about the carrier’s competition and readily discusses the new reality of in-flight design, he is also persistent that the real fight for customers expands beyond the seat fabric or dinner cutlery.
“Our project is not just to invest in the product. Our goal is to be at the top level in terms of product and to make the difference through the human relationships and the attitude of our people. It’s really two-fold,” says Matheu.
“We talk about the product because it’s easy to describe. The good product without the right people to properly serve that product to the customer is nothing.”
Air France executives expect to improve market share and gain back market share following the redesign roll-out, but their specific focus is on business travelers or luxury flyers able to splurge on premium seats.
As improved in-flight cabins become more commonplace on routes around the world, a new standard will likely emerge to set carriers apart. On the day of launch, Matheu is unable to predict what that might be.