Last week Lufthansa sent its first retrofitted 747-400 from Hong Kong to Frankfurt and those flying first class were in for quite a surprise.
Where previously these planes catered for 16 passengers in their ultra-luxury section, now they are fitted out for just eight and that means a full-length, window-side bed next to the seat, among other treats.
Lufthansa’s move comes as the likes of Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Air New Zealand and Air Canada have done away with first class cabins in favor of expanded business class facilities.
At the same time other carriers such as Qantas, Air France and British Airways have removed some first class seating from selected planes and increased the space available to business class.
With the European debt crisis affecting all airlines, Lufthansa is hoping the changes will attract more and more passengers from the South China region “and to attract more passengers to pay a full fare we need to offer an ever great product”.
According to market researchers China Elite Focus there are more than one million “Chinese Luxury Tourists,” who fly first or business class.
“Chinese tourists are big spenders, they are travelling more and seeking new venues. Traditionally, CLTs have holidayed mainly in Asia but are beginning to look further afield to Europe, the USA, Middle East and Australia,” said the company.
Lufthansa has not forgotten its business class passengers either. The airline is planning to roll out its first full flatbeds in business class in its B747-8 planes which are due to come into service early in 2012.