Is Oman Air going to launch a brand new first class product with a seat that could fit basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal?
That is the carrier’s plan for its newest Airbus A330s, according to Shashank Nigam, CEO of global airline marketing and branding consultancy SimpliFlying.
“Oman Air is certainly differentiating itself from other airlines, especially its larger Middle Eastern cousins. A business class in which Kobe Bryant can sleep comfortably, and a soon to be launched first class that fits Shaquille O’Neal is quite a revelation. Oman Air is certainly looking to make a big splash, especially in the premium cabins. If they can match this with superior service, then it would make for a compelling offering,” says Nigam.
Business Traveler reports that Oman will only feature six of these mammoth seats in first class. The seat could be unveiled any day now.
Oman Air’s new business class seat, shown below, was unveiled earlier this year during the ITB Berlin 2009 by Oman Air CEO Peter Hill. Key par from Oman statement:
“Oman Air has just 20 seats fitted in its business class cabin, featuring a four abreast 1-2-1 layout which together with 17″ video monitors gives an ambience and spaciousness that exceeds most of our competitor’s first class offerings.
“To deliver the last word in in-flight entertainment, Oman Air has selected the Thales i5000, which combined with the Rockwell Collins Tailwind 560 platform will provide Live TV, featuring news, sports and movie options to every seat on the aircraft.”
What else will the A330s have going for them? They will eventually be equipped to allow passengers to use their mobile phones during flight. Oman has a deal with OnAir to bring the Airbus/SITA joint venture’s SwiftBroadband-supported ‘Mobile OnAir’ and ‘Internet OnAir’ solutions onboard the widebodies. I’m not sure if the aircraft will offer OnAir from the get-go (but I’m thinking not, since Airbus said recently that the ALNA V2 platform wouldn’t be ready until 4Q). In any case, it will be cool to see if passengers use OnAir to access Oman’s newly updated SMS service.
So what challenges might Oman Air face?
“Premium demand is declining, and Oman Air will have to be innovative in its go-to-market approach. Either by using new mediums such as Web 2.0 to connect with customers, or by having multiple codeshares to drive traffic. Maybe joining a leading alliance like OneWorld or Star Alliance can be considered. After all, the in-flight products are good only if they’re filled up with passengers, isn’t it?”
(Pic of Shaquille O’Neal can be found here: http://www.geneticarchaeology.com/Images/Shaq_at_the_white_house.jpg)