Air India is the latest airline to seek the ‘sweet spot’ between comfort and price by adding premium economy to its twin-aisle Boeing 777 and 787 jets.
The all-new seat will take wing from the middle of 2024, along with new first and business class offerings, as part of a US$400m transformation of Air India under new owners Tata Group and CEO Campbell Wilson.
“This refurbishment will see a complete overhaul of existing cabin interiors, including the addition of latest generation seats and best in-class inflight entertainment across all classes,” the airline confirms.
“In addition, the refurbishment will see the introduction of a premium economy cabin on both fleets.”
London-based JPA Design will continue its expertise to what the airline has termed Project Vihaan, after the Sanskrit word for dawn, which also carries the symbolic meaning of ”beginning of a new age.”
While perhaps better known in the airline industry for its business and first class portfolio, JPA has worked on premium economy for the likes of Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, along with developing its own ‘modular’ premium economy concept.
Air India is also scoping out a dramatic expansion of its fleet with a blockbuster order for as many as 100 new twin-aisle Airbus or Boeing jets, along with “as many as 400 narrow-body jets” reports Reuters.
“These new aircraft, together with existing aircraft being returned to service, address an immediate need for more capacity and connectivity, and mark a strong step forward,” says CEO Wilson.
While many airlines have traditionally resisted adding premium economy due to fears of cannibalising their business class market, an increasing number of carriers see it as it a lucrative upgrade option from economy class, especially on long flights with overnight legs.
Emirates is the most recent holdout to add premium economy to its globe-striding fleet, although neighbour and rival Etihad Airways sees its extra-legroom Economy Space seats as a smarter premium economy play.