Cathay Pacific is joining a growing list of carriers squeezing in as many seats as it can in to its long-haul jet routes.
Cathay Pacific will move to the much disliked 10-abreast economy seating from the standard, spacious nine-abreast in plans revealed to the South China Morning Post by the airline’s chief executive.
Chief executive Ivan Chu Kwok-leung said in an exclusive interview: “If you look at the Boeing 777s, which everybody uses from the Gulf to the US to European carriers and ourselves, the standard is 3-4-3. I think we are moving towards that stage, it’s very clear.”
“Slots are very scarce,” Chu said. “We want to generate more seats per slot, that’s the key thing. That’s why we are doing it. It’s very important we do it.”
Chu explained he wanted to offer the best in economy seats to ensure customers felt comfortable in the smaller seats. Cathay said it was committed to maintaining 32 inches of legroom as standard but the seat width would narrow – estimated to come down from 18.5 inches to around 17 inches per seat, based on changes made by rival airlines.
The Cathay chief said he was confident he could maximise the cabin real estate to ease the “pain” associated with travelling in a full long-haul economy-class flight through the latest seat and cushion technology.
“We will maximise every single centimetre; every single millimetre counts,” Chu pledged.
Cathay Pacific has not set out a clear timeline for the changes to economy class seating but it is understood to happen around 2018.
Flight attendant Silvia But, vice-chairwoman of the airline’s Flight Attendants Union, said: “If there is one more seat per row, I cannot imagine how narrow it will be. For passengers it’s definitely bad news.”