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Air France lures high-end fliers with new luxury suite

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Published : 2014-05-08 21:08
Updated : 2014-05-08 22:02

Air France’s new first-class cabin “La Premiere” (Air France)
SHANGHAI, China ― Air France unveiled its new first-class cabin, branded as “La Premiere,” at a media event in Shanghai on Wednesday as part of its renewed ambition to win over Asia’s high-end fliers.

The new luxury suite features a seat that turns into a fully, flat bed stretching more than 2 meters long and 77 centimeters across ― one of the most spacious in the market. Down pillows and comforters are offered by French hotel group Sofitel.

The seat also comes with a 24-inch HD touchscreen TV, a large dining table measuring 60 centimeters by 61 centimeters, a set of curtains for privacy and an ottoman for a guest to sit on during the trip.

Seventy-six such seats will be fitted into 19 Boeing 777-300s, with each jet featuring only four of these new suites. The first phase of the upgrade will start in September on the Singapore and New York routes. Its Korean launch is expected to come next year.

“I’m sure that the new suite will be a success in Korea because it is a perfect fit for the market’s high customer expectations,” said Patrick Alexandre, executive vice president in charge of the company’s international business.

He added the company would ramp up efforts to offer more tailored services on language and in-flight meals in key Asian markets, including Korea.

As part of a luxury makeover plan that aims to restore profits, the French carrier has rolled out new designs for its economy, premium economy and business seats on long-haul services in recent months.

The company poured 50 million euros ($70 million) into the upgrade of the first-class seats alone, according to its CEO, Frederic Gagey.

“It’s our clients who will judge the product. We are extremely proud of the result and extremely confident. The improvement in the range affects all our classes and not only first,” he said during a press conference.

In reflection of its high ambition in the all-important Chinese market, Air France picked Shanghai to hold the world premiere of its new suite in a lavishly choreographed exhibition featuring all its new cabin designs and services.

Following the Chinese event this week, the “Air France, France is in the air” exhibitions will be held in New York in June and Paris in September.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)

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