Cathay Pacific to expand ‘premium economy’-A A +A
By Mia A. Aznar
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
AFTER getting positive feedback among passengers for their premium economy
seats for long-haul flights, Cathay Pacific announced that they will be making these available across regional destinations within the month.
In a lunch meeting with Sun.Star Cebu journalists, the management of the airline’s Cebu office announced that premium economy seats will be made available on 22 regional routes beginning Oct. 27. Seats will go on sale beginning today.
Newly appointed Cebu manager Sally Wong believes the product will do well, saying the price difference between economy and premium economy is not that high but it comes with better perks.
Introduced last year, the premium economy is a separate cabin class with 26 to 34 seats that are six inches wider than the economy seat and with more legroom. It also includes a larger meal table, cocktail table, footrest, 10.6-inch personal television, in-seat power outlet, extra personal stowage space and multi-port connector for personal devices.
Willing to pay extra
Passengers with premium economy tickets also get dedicated check-in counters, priority boarding, increased baggage allowance of 25kg and more mile credits.
Southern Philippines’ marketing and communications head Connie Cimafranca said that many passengers are willing to pay extra to be seated in the exit row to get better legroom. With premium economy, passengers who are unwilling to pay the full fare for business class are willing to upgrade their tickets to premium economy, she said.
With low-cost carriers cropping up around Asia, Wong said being an airline with better value for travelers is what keeps them from losing out to the cheaper carriers.
She said Cathay Pacific’s strength is in its wide network, frequency of flights and wide coverage. Wong added that having Hong Kong as their base also gives them an edge because travelers welcome the Hong Kong airport as a good transit point for long-haul flights.
She assured that they always make sure bookings, whether online or via their ticketing offices, check-in, during the flight and arrivals are seamless for the traveler.
As their cabin crew was awarded best cabin staff at the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards, Wong said passengers can be sure of quality service from their flight attendants during the flight.
Wong added that they also offer competitive prices during promos, but not many are aware of it. These, she said, are often better compared to other low cost carrier offerings.
Aside from Cebu, premium economy seats will be available in flight to and from Bangkok, Beijing, Colombo, Denpasar/Bali, Ho Chi Minh, Jakarta, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Nagoya, Osaka, Penang, Sapporo, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Surabaya, Taipei and Tokyo.
Cimafranca urged travelers to take advantage of the introductory price of premium economy seats, which are at US$330 excluding taxes. Eventually, the seats are expected to be adjusted to US$500.
Wong and Cimafranca also announced the opening of new flights to Maldives, Siem Reap and Newark in New Jersey.
It will launch on a four-times weekly service from Hong Kong to Maldives and Siem Reap before the end of the month.
They will also offer a daily service from Hong Kong to Newark on March next year. With Newark located west of Manhattan Island, it is expected to complement their services to the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and becomes a convenient option for travelers living or working in New Jersey.
As their base is in Hong Kong, Wong said they want to keep attracting tourists to fly there and take advantage of their competitive fares.
Wong admitted that the hostage-taking incident in Manila three years ago is still an issue for Hong Kong travelers and that the black travel advisory is still in effect, making it difficult to attract Hong Kong travelers to fly to the Philippines. However, she said Cebu has an edge in its diving attractions, which makes Hong Kong and Chinese visitors opt to plan visits despite the travel advisory.
Wong said the share of Hong Kong passengers flying to the Philippines has decreased 10 percent, but their numbers are offset by holiday travelers from Western countries.
They also want to encourage regional destinations, especially in lesser known cities in China like Chang Sha through their regional carrier Dragonair. Wholly-owned by Cathay Pacific, Wong said some perceive regional carriers as low-cost carriers. She assured that although Dragonair flies to regional destinations, it is a full-service airline.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 02, 2013.