Frequent flyers have long been dreading the thought of any airline introducing an all-economy A380 packing 853 sardines passengers.
But low-cost Japanese airline Skymark has unveiled an audacious plan for an 'all-premium' fitout of the superjumbo. Skymark wants to launch a 'cut-price, all-premium service' shuttling between Tokyo and London in 2014.
The A380s will be configured for 114 business-class seats on the upper deck with 299 premium economy seats downstairs. No first class and no economy - just plenty of premium seats with plenty of legroom (well, hopefully by lanky Western standards rather than Japanese).
The roundtrip business-class fare is pegged at ¥300,000 yen ($3,650) compared with the ¥700,000 yen ($8,510) now charged by rival Japanese airlines ANA and Japan Airlines for plying the same route. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic also offer Tokyo-Heathrow flights.
Skymark has not commented on which airports it would use, leaving open the possibility that it could run between the newly-internationalised Haneda and Gatwick, which has received approval for an A380 upgrade.
It's a big ask for Skymark, given that the airline is currently a domestic-only carrier for Japan and that to date, only British Airways and Lufthansa have chalked up any measure of success with all-premium long-haul flights. Three transatlantic all-premium carriers – Eos, Maxjet and Silverjet – all closed between 2007 and 2008.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.