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Asean Affairs   17 February 2014

Asian passengers shaping long haul economy air travel

New research shows comfort is key to Asian passengers

Airbus today published a new research report about the comfort demands of Asian economy class passengers. ‘The Future of Comfort: Asia’ conducted by global future consultancy Future Laboratory, reveals new insights into the evolving demands of tomorrow’s increasingly influential Asian air passengers.

Airbus forecasts that by 2032 the Asia region will account for 45% of global passengers; this will make them the dominant flyers of the 21st century shaping the future economy class experience.

The research reveals two emerging typologies of Asian travellers who, due to the rise of social media and shared global online experiences, have an increased knowledge of flying and will demand an enhanced level of comfort:

·         New emerging affluent travellers are first time careers, aged between 18 and 34, highly knowledgeable and wowed by services and add-ons.
·         High income frequent travellers are more experienced flyers, in the middle of their career and focus on personal time and comfort in the strictest sense, with seat width playing a key factor in their perception of comfort.

Whilst their comfort expectations vary slightly, there is a clear commonality on the importance they place on a number of factors:

·         Sleep, wellbeing and relaxation lead to higher productivity. This is of particular relevance in Asia, where emerging markets are opening up business opportunities and 70 per cent of travellers in economy class are flying for business in Asia (highest percentage globally**).  Asian passengers believe that the chance to rest on a flight unlocks higher levels of productivity, as opposed to the western view of seeing this time as a chance to catch-up on work. A productive flight is seen by the Asian flyer as one where they can relax (78%), sleep (58%) and then work (56%) – in that order.

·         Asians would pay more money for more seat space as it symbolises improved comfort and brings more relaxation. The majority of Asian consumers (58%) believe that the seat itself is the top factor affecting their sense of comfort when flying. 60% believe that wider seats are the top requirement for ‘improved standards of comfort’ and 42% would pay more for increased seat width. Wider seats improve views of on-board productivity (53%) followed by more legroom (48%), adjustable seating (43%), quiet zones (42%), and increased arm room (37%)

·         Service levels motivate Asian economy class passengers to book a flight with a particular airline brand. Better cabin service is the top factor influencing future booking decisions.

The report also identified three future macro trends for comfort demanded by the Asian market:

·         The Always on Cabin - Wifi enabled cabins with telephone and conference calling facilities will be seen as a pre-requisite to the large volumes of Asian business passenger traveling to unlock business opportunities in a world of 24/7 access.

·         3D technology - having already made its mark in entertainment and retail, 3D is expected to be offering more immersive film and shopping experience on board. Airbus is future proofing aircraft currently in production with the integration of fourth generation in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems including 3D TV.

·         Energizing Cabin ‎- Asian Flyers agree that greater in-flight wellbeing allows passengers to relax and unwind, which are seen as key to productivity. Air Quality, cabin quietness, mood lighting and seat space are areas where Airbus is leading to promote heightened passenger wellbeing.
Kevin Keniston, Airbus’ Head of Passenger Comfort comments: “The voice of the Asian passenger is fast becoming the dominant voice in the aviation industry and will dictate the future of flight. This new research clearly shows that comfort is paramount to satisfying the needs of long haul travel for the Asian population now and in the future. Airbus offers airlines the ability to respond to these market demands now. Our unique aircraft designs deliver comfort without compromise; the ability to offer passengers high levels of comfort whilst simultaneously delivering the most fuel efficient economics to airlines.”

Martin Raymond, co-founder of The Future Laboratory comments: “Our report reveals rich insights into the needs of passengers across eight key Asian markets, and the unique cultural and behavioural drivers around the notion of comfort. It is clear that the emerging typologies of Asian travellers place comfort at the heart of their purchase decisions.”‎‎‎‎


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