Aer Lingus will debut a new premium cabin on its short-range UK and European flights towards the end of this year in an attempt to snare more of the business travel market.
Dubbed Aer Space, the concept follows the 'EuroBusiness' model in which a standard economy class seating is marketed with add-on benefits designed to appeal to corporate flyers jetting between Dublin and cities such as London, Paris and Amsterdam.
The first three rows of the economy-only aircraft serving those and other key cities will be set aside for Aer Space bookings, where passengers will find the middle of three seats is kept empty.
Other Aer Space perks will include lounge access, priority boarding and baggage, and free inflight meals.
Aer Space fares will be fully flexible, with no change fee and a full refund available.
Aer Lingus ran focus groups involving top-tier members of its Gold Circle frequent flyer program to shape the new Aer Space offering, having scrapped its short-range business class a decade ago.
The move comes as low-cost competitors Ryanair and Easyjet are more aggressively chasing business customers.
The airline is also considering upgrading its Boeing 757 fleet with the same business class seat as introduced on its long-range Airbus A330s from April this year.
That seat offers direct aisle access to 90% of business class guests, along with AC and USB power outlets and free inflight Internet, and transforms into a fully-flat bed.
The Irish national carrier is also expected to rejoin the Oneworld alliance following a £1bn (A$2bn) buy-out by British Airways' parent International Airlines Group.
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