Philippine Airlines‘ plan to create a 5-star airline have taken a huge leap forward this week, with the announcement that they will convert the cabin lay-out of eight economy-only A330-300s to include brand new Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy class cabins.
PAL is one of a few Asian carriers who have been stuck in the middle of an airline war waged by low cost carriers and the very top 5-star international carriers. Airlines like Philippine Airlines and Vietnam Airlines, who have historically been stuck in the middle with ageing legacy carrier products have had to either embrace low-cost product or step up to compete with the likes of Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines.
The announcement includes 18 new Thompson Vantage XL seats in business class, 24 brand new Zodiac 5810 premium economy seats were also selected featuring an industry standard legroom of 38 inches, width of 19 inches and a recline of 8 inches, while the Economy Zodiac brand was chosen for the 267 economy seats with a legroom of 32 inches, width of 17 inches and recline of 6 inches. This is a massive drop in seats from the original 414 passenger configuration.
The Thompson Vantage XL seats were originally created with the help of Factorydesign, however Philippine Airlines have once again partnered with Tokyo based LIFT Strategic Design to bring the cabins to life. “Lift has been involved fleetwide. This is a 2.5 year project that includes concept, design, milestone support and consulting. We started working with Philippine Airlines back in 2008 working on their 777’s,” said Daniel Baron, CEO of Lift. Baron also hinted that the full details of the new cabins will be released in the near future.
“As we journey on to becoming a 5-star, world–class, full service carrier with a heart, we devote our efforts towards enhancing the total travel experience. Our cabin reconfiguration efforts combined with meticulous seat and IFE selection are in line with our goal to make each and every flight pleasant, comfortable and convenient”, PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime J. Bautista said.
The reconfigured A330s will be rolled out within a seven-month period this year, starting in June for flights to Honolulu, July for Melbourne, August for Sydney, September for Singapore, October for Haneda, November for Narita and December for Osaka.
While SIA and Cathay have stepped up with new inflight products and ground products, Vietnam Airlines has been close on their tails, fighting hard to improve inflight products with brand new aircraft. This week’s announcement places Philippine Airlines firmly in the same mindset of Vietnam Airlines, and carriers like Cathay, Singapore or Garuda will need to keep an eye on Philippine Airlines upgrade plans over the coming months.