Malaysia Airlines Airbus A380s to get 'Economy Plus' seating

By David Flynn, February 18 2016
Malaysia Airlines Airbus A380s to get 'Economy Plus' seating

Malaysia Airlines will add a new 'Economy Plus' cabin to its Airbus A380s later this year as part of a CEO Christoph Mueller's 'reboot' of the troubled airline.

The economy cabin at the rear of the superjumbo's upper deck – currently the domain of 70 economy class passengers, behind the business class cabin – will be converted into an 'economy plus' zone.

A spokesperson for Malaysia Airlines told Australian Business Traveller that the new cabin would deliver "enhanced space and premium offerings" but specified it would be sold as Economy Plus rather than a dedicated premium economy class favoured by the likes of Qantas, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa and most recently Singapore Airlines.

This indicates the upper deck could retain the same economy seats as the main deck but with with several of its nine rows removed to provide extra legroom, although the 2-4-2 seating layout would likely remain.

Many airlines – including Qantas, Qatar Airways, Air France, China Southern and Thai Airways – include a small economy cabin at the rear of their Airbus A380s.

This zone is often the pick of savvy travellers due to window-side seating in pairs rather than triples (so there's no middle seat), storage bins for the A and K window seats and a generally quieter and more 'intimate' space than the cavernous 350-seat economy cabin downstairs.

'Super-economy' Mk II..?

Malaysia Airlines originally earmarked the rear of the A380's upper deck for a spacious "super-economy" cabin, but opted for standard economy seating and pitch to allow an extra two rows on business class to be installed.

In November 2015 Malaysia Airlines CEO Christoph Mueller indicated he was reconsidering the merits of a better-than-economy cabin, which would attract higher fares than regular economy seats.

"We are very happy with business class demand, and this gives us the opportunity to increase the revenue per passenger in the economy class" he told Reuters. "The target passenger is in economy class, and you don't want to cannibalise the business class."

Mueller said this week that with the airline unable to find a buyer for two of its A380s, the entire six-strong superjumbo fleet would remain in the skies until at least 2018, after retiring its older Boeing 777-200s and when the airline's first Airbus A350s are slated to arrive.

However, London currently remains the sole A380 destination on MAS' route map.

Malaysia Airlines also this week revealed its new Airbus A330 business class seats would make their debut on the Kuala Lumpur-Sydney route from March 23. 

Read: New Malaysia Airlines business class set for Sydney launch

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Its good to see MAS is acknowledging this market space. I hope the decision turns out well for them.

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 265

This might well end up being the sweet spot for MH, but interesting how they're not removing First on their A380 LHR route. I thought for sure we would see First Removed for more Business class offerings, but I suppose Economy Plus is a step in the right direction at least. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1387

Very interesting that MH has been unable to divest the A380s, but hopefully they can make it work

05 Dec 2013

Total posts 38

I wonder where they will fly the four A380s they are now keeping?  Interesting that they are installing an Economy Plus product and reducing the seat count.  Wonder what the total seat count will be reduced to once the new Economy Plus section is installed?

19 Feb 2016

Total posts 7

I was thinking same thing. If they keeping the A380's will we see them to MEL or SYD very soon ? Surely they cannot keep them on the ground any longer.

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 265

Why not? It might end up being cheaper to NOT fly them over a half flight where the crew and airport taxes etc have to be paid for. 

I would very much be interested in their First Class however if they did sell it towards oz, if they started it - but I think they're more interested in their new A330 Business seats for Oz. 

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