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Asiana Airlines Axes First, Elevates Business Class to Business Suites

As the Seoul-based carrier cuts routes and costs, business class passengers stand to get a suite deal on long-haul flights

In a brave move to cut costs and maximize passenger comfort, Asiana Airlines is moving business class to the front of the plane and sending first class passengers packing. The move marks a bit of a trend in recent months as several airlines see their planes flying out with few takers for the top seats.

Recently Korean Air also moved to eliminate the first class cabin service on some 70 percent of its flights. Malaysia Airlines turned its first class service into “premium” business class. United Airlines eliminated its noteworthy Global First cabin service and replaced it with its new, spacious United Polaris business class product. Qatar Airways has also jumped on the business class boosting bandwagon with its Qsuites premium business class product that allows some of its seats to turn into double beds.

At Asiana, Business Class will take up a dozen seats in the front of the plane with three seats on each side and six in the middle. Each seat is a spacious “suite” with a modicum of privacy given by high partitions.

The changeover applies to all of its long haul flights operated by Airbus A380s and will be seen on flights to Los Angeles, New York, and Frankfurt. Business Suite passengers will continue to have access to the Asiana First Class Lounge at Incheon Airport. Asiana will provide in-flight meals, baggage allowance, and mileage accrual as the current Business Class.

The new business class suite seats will be available for flights September 1 and will cost 30 to 40 percent less than the First Class seats they once were.

In other economizing measures, the airline announced it was cutting some unprofitable routes from its roster. These include the Chicago to Incheon flights OZ 235/236; the Incheon to Khabarovsk flights OZ 572/571; and the Incheon Sakhalin flights OZ 576/575. The Chicago flights cease October 27. In addition, Asiana will be discontinuing flights to New Delhi, India effective as of July 8, 2019.

The announcements come as the airline CEO stepped down recently and efforts are in motion for financing and new ownership. In a statement to this effect, the airline said:

“In the latest news, you may have heard that Asiana’s parent company, Kumho Asiana Group, has decided to sell its stake in Asiana Airlines as part of its restructuring measures to its main creditor, Korea Development Bank. We expect this process may take months to more than a year until the ownership is officially handed over, during which time there will be no changes to our governance and executive members.”