Air India may go for scrapping first class seats…

Default, IATA — By on October 25, 2011 at 1:02 pm

ir India may reduce or even do away with its first-class seats on mo s t i n t e r n a t i o n a l f l i g h t s depending on the outcome of an internal study it is conducting to reconfigure seats on its fleet to boost revenue. Air India also plans to reschedule timing of some of its US flights, such as those to New York, to boost aircraft utilisation and to cut idle time for the widebody aircraft from the end of this month when the winter season kicks in. According to a report, the demand for first-class seats, which can cost as much as six times an economyclass seat, has dropped as companies cut travel entitlements for top executives to save costs as the prospect of a second recession looms in less than four years in the US, European nations face a debt crisis, and rising interest rates in India crimp economic growth. A reconfiguration may lead to the airline removing its first-class seats completely and installing more economy or business class seats in its place, it is told. Air India uses Boeing Co.’s B 777- 300ER and B 777-200LR aircraft on long-haul flights. While the B 777- 300ER has 342 seats, with four in first class, 35 in business, and 303 in economy; the B 777-200LR has a capacity of 238 seats, with eight in first, 35 in business, and 195 in economy class. These aircraft are deployed on the New York, Chicago, Frankfurt, London, Newark, Paris, Toronto and Tokyo routes. Local flights include only business and economy seats. The first-class seats are sometimes the only ones available on non-stop routes such as New Delhi-New York. They are also the most expensive. A one-way Delhi- New York ticket for next week on Air India will cost Rs 228,495 for first class, Rs 117,709 for business class, and Rs 34,610 for economy class. Rival Jet Airways (India) Ltd flies first-class seats only to London and Hong Kong, while other sectors such as Milan and the US currently have no first-class seats. Emirates and Lufthansa offer first-class seats with one-stop flights to New York.

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