Asiana to end first class and upgrade its fleet

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Asiana to end first class and upgrade its fleet

Asiana Airlines will end its first-class service and make its fleet younger in an attempt to increase profitability and stabilize its business, the airline said Tuesday.

The measures are being taken as Kumho Industrial is seeking to sell off its 33.5 percent stake.

According to Asiana, it will stop offering first class from September. While the highest-end seats are expensive, and potentially profitable, demand has been limited.

Existing first-class seats on Asiana planes will be utilized under the “business suite” branding and offered to customers at roughly 30 to 40 percent less than first-class prices.

While services such as in-flight meals and amenities offered to business suite customers will be the same as those offered to normal business-class customers, business-suite customers would have to pay a bit more for the first-class seats.

The airline also plans to operate a safer and younger fleet of airplanes.

It said it will reduce the number of planes more than 20 years in age from 19 to 10 by 2023. At the same time, it will add new aircraft. By 2023, its fleet will have 19 A350s and 15 A321neos. A spokesperson from the airline said it now has eight A350s, long-range wide body planes made by Airbus. Its first A321neos will be delivered in July.

With the change in fleet composition, planes aged over 20 years will account for only 13 percent of the fleet, from currently 23 percent.

The company said it will invest roughly 68 billion won ($58.17 million) this year in airplane maintenance. The money will be spent mostly on securing necessary parts at Asiana’s foreign offices.

The company has made some changes to a plan announced two weeks ago. It said it will suspend its Incheon-Khabarovsk and Incheon-Sakhalin services from July 8. Before, the company planned to cut the routes from September. The Incheon-Delhi service is also on the list of routes to be suspended from July 8.

For customers who need to change their reservations or get refunds due to the changes, the company promised to process requests without charging a commission.

The Incheon-Chicago route will be suspended in October, as scheduled.

The latest measures come after an earlier announcement of early retirements and unpaid leave.

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