I’m writing an interiors feature for Flight in advance of the Hamburg show, and you can be sure I’m going to include a segment about Swiss International Air Lines’ new Airbus A330-300 first class product, which is loaded with bells and whistles.
Paul Estoppey, senior manager, head of cabin interior development & infotainment at Swiss, was kind enough to answer some of my questions. First off, let’s address connectivity. Swiss is still studying where it wants to go on that one.
“Regarding connectivity, we have not made a decision at this time and are observing the market,” says Estoppey.
The Panasonic IFE systems are pretty cool, however. They boast massive 23in screens, will offer full AVOD, a USB port, and an iPod socket where one can transfer his/her own iPod or iPhone content to the screen. A 110V power socket is standard as well.
“On the content side we provide the newest selection of movies, TV content, music and games,” says Estoppey. Passengers in business and economy class will get individual IFE with smaller monitors.
He adds: “We will have more details regarding the new IFE at a later date.”
It took two years for Swiss to develop the new product, which includes lie-flat seats with air cushions. ”Each customer can choose the softness (or firmness) of the seat cushion and backrest cushion at any time and individually,” says Estoppey.
Swiss will take delivery of the first new A330-300 next month. Despite the current economic slump, the carrier feels strongly that its investment will position it for the future.
“In times of economic downturn, we need to respond with even stricter cost controls, cost reductions and moves to further raise our efficiency. Consolidating our position as a top-quality airline is a long-term undertaking,” says Estoppey.
“We should also bear in mind that, while the economy is not strong, air transport remains a growth sector in the long term. So by making these investments now, we are equipping ourselves to take full advantage of the next economic upturn when it comes.”