First class is ‘a dead product’: ACE chief Robert Milton

If you’re looking for a rosy near-term outlook for the aviation industry, don’t look in the direction of Robert Milton, executive chairman of Air Canada holding company ACE Aviation.

In a candid videotaped interview with Airline Business editor Mark Pilling, Milton said he expects to see some airlines “hobbled” by the debt they assumed to weather the current economic storm.

Moreover, he predicts:

“We will undoubtedly see more failures and some will likely be some of the legacies. And there will be some low-cost failures, but not the large established pan regional-type low-cost carriers.”

For those of you concerned with inside the cabin, and specifically first class, Milton is equally gloomy:

“Part of what’s happened though is just this complete collapse of traffic in the front cabins. I think first class – other than maybe a couple of airlines going forward – is essentially a dead product. You have business class, now there is premium economy and economy so we’re up to three classes again, not four.”

I sure hope that first class isn’t completely dead because I’d like to give it a try on a number of different carriers in this lifetime.

The entire Airline Business video is worth a look/listen! Click on the word ‘PLAY’ to the right of the screen.

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One Response to First class is ‘a dead product’: ACE chief Robert Milton

  1. Oussama January 7, 2010 at 9:28 pm #

    In the late 80s to the early 90s the industry went through the same cycle. A few major legacy airlines converted their front first class cabins into Business Class. It was not until a few years later that First became popular again.