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Despite the disappearance of MH370 and the shooting down of MH17 that still linger in the back of our heads, Malaysia Airlines has bounced back strongly and experienced tremendous growth, so much so that it doesn’t have enough aircraft to match all of the demand. Besides purchasing six second-hand Airbus A330s back in June, the airline announced an order for 10 737 MAX 10s at the Paris Air Show to enable to its aggressive regional expansion plans.
According to Australian BT, Malaysia Airlines is now planning to revamp its business class seat on its narrow-body Boeing 737s, adopting lie-flat suites with direct aisle access for all passengers on its 737 MAX 10s due for delivery beginning in 2021. With the new fleet targeted for use in the secondary and even tertiary markets in China, CEO Peter Bellew believes that the growing and affluent middle-class in Asia creates a sizable demand for a lie-flat business product on four to five-hour flights within the region.
While nothing is set in stone, the Kuala Lumpur-based carrier is working with Thompson Aero Seating, which has also produced the business-class seats for Malaysia’s Airbus A330s and upcoming A350s. Thompson is no stranger to producing premium-cabin seats for narrow-body jets — it’s responsible for JetBlue’s beloved Mint first-class product. In fact, Bellew thinks it’s such a “fantastically innovative transcontinental product in the US” that he’s “shamelessly copying what JetBlue have done with Mint.”
While JetBlue’s configuration doesn’t provide direct aisle access for all passengers, Bellew would like Malaysia’s 737s to sport a configuration that does. This may be possible with Thompson’s new Vantage Solo seat, which was featured in the company’s latest online catalog.
Perfect for a narrow-body jet like a Boeing 737, the seats will be arranged in a 1-1 configuration, resembling American Airline’s First Class product on the A321T. This seat, which will have a very reasonable width of 21″, will offer direct aisle access and can be converted into a fully horizontal flat bed.
With stiff competition from regional airlines such as Silkair and Cathay Dragon, it’s nice to see Malaysia Airlines innovate and improve the short-haul premium cabin which typically features recliner seats. Even though it’s a long way from taking delivery of the first of these new 737s, this is welcoming news to business travelers in Asia, and hopefully will set a precedent that other airlines will follow.
H/T: Australian BT
Featured image courtesy of Fauzan via Flickr.
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