It increasingly looks like international first class service may become history, thanks to the current pandemic! Recently, Korean Air has become the latest airline to pull the plug on its first class service. In the past few weeks, Korean Air has repeatedly updated its flight schedule, however, one thing has been pretty consistent – the airline has completely removed first class service from several routes. Only the routes operated by the Airbus A380 are now seen to be still operating the first class service.
This does not look like a temporary action, and the carrier has stripped off first class from its paraphernalia till next summer. Till recently, Korean Air sold first class tickets on several aircraft other than the mighty Airbus A380, like the Boeing 777-300ERs and the Boeing 747-8. Currently, the airline has 10 Airbus A380 aircraft in its fleet, which it primarily operates to London, Paris, Los Angeles and New York.
However, this is not the first time that the airline has ceased operating first class on certain aircraft. In June 2019, the airline had stated interest to stop operating first class service on several routes, which led to elimination of the first class product from a majority of A330s, selected Boeing 777s as well as the sophisticated Boeing 787s. Back then, first class services on 27 international wide-body routes were halted, and the carrier had also hinted that future wide-body aircraft were likely to be delivered without a first class cabin.
According to the current and future travel speculations, Korean Air expects the demand for their first class to stay low. Flying empty first class seats cost the airline much heavily than flying empty business or economy class seats. Accordingly, given the current circumstances, the action by Korean Air definitely does not come as a surprise!
However, this is not the first instance of an airline ceasing to operate the highest quality service to its passengers. Last year, even Asiana Airlines pulled the plug on their first class service. In the present afflicting times, when airlines are struggling to make money, reducing the financial overhead only makes sense! While the bigger surprise here being the fact that Korean Air still plans to operate the Airbus A380, the fact the other aircraft will be void of first class service hardly seems worth worrying about!
What we are witnessing currently is the wave of transformation the global shutdown in travel has brought. For years to some, airlines will focus on sustainability than profitability; and that will change the face of air travel to a notable extent, that’s for sure!