The long, slow death march of international first class cabins continues to move forward (similar stories were being discussed 15 months ago, too). Lufthansa confirmed this past week that they are going to be retrofitting some of their long-haul fleet to remove the first class cabins. These cuts will be targeted at specific markets, not across the board, but the signal is pretty clear: Fewer and fewer are paying for the service so there is less and less reason to offer it.
Lufthansa does see the aviation market as a whole growing; they are going to be adding capacity to their network year-over-year through the next three, but they are doing it mostly by reconfiguring current aircraft or taking delivery of newer, larger aircraft and retiring older, smaller planes. The A380 and 747-8i are key components of that plan. Markets such as Bangkok, India, Canada and Africa will see the first class cabins removed as the carrier adjusts service to meet passenger demands according to Carsten Spohr, head of the passenger airline group at Lufthansa in an interview with Bloomberg. Spohr is one of the potential replacements as CEO for the company when Christoph Franz departs next year.
The move follows on comments earlier this year from Franz lamenting the improvements in the business class cabin. Franz sees that as eroding the demand for first class purchases and he’s mostly correct, at least based on industry trends and purchase patterns. At least the move should come in parallel with improvements on Lufthansa’s business class cabin, making things a bit better for more passengers.
And for those who have delighted in the first class travel experience via award travel, well, this is really bad news. Fewer first class seats will be available and fewer routes will offer the service. That means awards are going to be even harder to score. And they weren’t incredibly easy to begin with.
- Across the pond in Lufthansa First Class (Part 2: On board in Lufthansa First)
- Turkish confirms killing of Comfort Class
- In flight: Singapore Suites on an inaugural flight
- TAM introducing new kick-ass first class cabin for their 777s
- In flight: Royal First Class on Thai Airways’ A380
- First Class is dead; long live first class
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