On its lengthy overseas flights, American Airlines stated Thursday that it will gradually reduce its first-class space in favor of more business-class seats.
With the debut of its new “Flagship Suite,” the airline will boost the premium experience it provides to customers by giving them access to premium seating and a reinvented interior of the aircraft.
Vasu Raja, the airline’s chief commercial officer, said first-class seats is being discontinued because “the customers were not buying it” during an earnings call with investors on Thursday.
The Flagship Suite seats, which go on sale in 2024 with new deliveries of its Airbus A321XLR and Boeing 787-9 aircraft, will provide passengers with a private premium experience with a privacy door, a chaise lounge seating choice, and more personal storage space.
Domestic flights on single-aisle aircraft will continue to feature first-class seating up front, according to the airline.
An American Airlines representative stated, “We are not getting rid of first-class seats on domestic flights. This change, which involves the use of new aircraft, will solely apply to our overseas operations.
By 2026, American wants to add 51 Flagship Suite seats and 32 Premium Economy seats to its Boeing 787-9 aircraft, and 20 Flagship Suite seats and 12 Premium Economy seats to its Airbus A321XLR fleet, boosting its capacity for premium seating by 45%.
Adding Flagship Suite seats to the airline’s current Boeing 777-300ER aircraft is another upgrade under consideration. Beginning in late 2024, the business intends to refit new interiors into 20 of those aircraft.
They will have 44 premium economy rooms and 70 Flagship Suites. The company also said that its 16 Airbus A321T aircraft will be in line with the rest of its A321 fleet.
“The main change here is the name. Most carriers’ business class is equivalent to what was once considered first class, according to airline expert Mike Boyd.
After reporting better-than-expected profitability in the third quarter, American predicted during its call on Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit will surpass analyst expectations as travel demand held steady despite rising airfare and rising threats of an economic recession.
According to the firm, which is the top US airline by fleet size, there are no indications that consumer demand for travel is slowing down, and it anticipates that demand to remain “strong” in 2019. However, it issued a warning that the lack of pilots at its regional partners and the delays in aircraft delivery would continue to limit its ability to satisfy demand.
American is the most recent airline to offer a positive demand prognosis despite concerns about travel spending being raised by a worsening economic outlook. Derek Kerr, chief financial officer, stated in an investor call that “the constraints facing our business today will remain as we approach towards 2023.”