EXCLUSIVE | Turkish Airlines plans to upgrade its Boeing 777-300ER jets with a new business class seat over the next four years, in a move that will introduce direct aisle access for every business class passenger.
Replacing today’s seats – which come in a 2-3-2 layout, and place almost half of business class passengers a hop away from that aisle – the seating upgrade will come as welcome news for Australian travellers venturing to Istanbul from Singapore, with Turkish Airlines’ Singapore-Istanbul flights served by the Boeing 777-300ER.
However, there’s no guarantee that the new Boeing 777 seat will adopt a typical 1-2-1 configuration as many travellers are accustomed to, as Turkish Airlines’ Chief Investment & Technology Officer, Dr Ahmet Bolat, explained to Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting in Seoul:
“Our current seats in the Boeing 777, because of the wider cabin, had to be seven in a row (2-3-2). We had to take care of the economy of the aircraft too, so for that reason we are looking at alternative seats,” as opposed to installing the same Aurora seat (shown below) planned for the airline’s upcoming Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s, which Bolat described as “smaller aircraft, which could only have four seats (in each row).”
On the reconfigured Boeing 777s, “there will be direct aisle access, but there are different types of seats available to us… for example, they have seats that are two coupled together with aisle access via the back of the seat.”
Competitors like Korean Air and Japan Airlines are already flying a seat that meets this description on board their aircraft – the Apex Suite, where passengers seated away from the aisle have a direct path behind or in front of another passenger, without crossing into their personal space.
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“For renovating our existing fleet, still we need to make a decision… but in the next four years, I think we will complete renovating the Boeing 777s,” Bolat confirms.
Chris Chamberlin is attending the IATA AGM in Seoul as a guest of IATA.