Air China To Install Business Class Suites On New Airbus A350s

Chinese airlines are not always associated with the cutting edge of good seat design, but Beijing-based Air China is breaking the mold by installing swish Recaro CL6720 seats in the business class cabins of 15 incoming Airbus A350s.

Air China’s newest Airbus A350-900 planes will feature up-to-the-minute Recaro seats. Photo: Airbus

Recaro CL6720 seats onboard Air China from mid-2022

Come mid-2022, Air China’s newest A350-900s will begin sporting Recaro’s CL6720 seat in business class, PL3530 seats in premium economy, and CL3710 seats in the main cabin. While this represents an upgrade across the entire plane, the new business class seats are getting the most attention this week.

Air China will be the launch customer for the CL6720 seat. The seat is an upgraded version of  Recaro’s existing CL6710 product. Passengers who fly in El Al’s 787-9 and TAP Air Portugal’s A330neo business class cabins will know the CL6710 seat. In a notable step-up, the new CL6720 comes with a sliding door. Combined with high walls surrounding the seat, Air China’s newest A350-900s will embrace the business class mini-suite concept many long-haul premium airlines now offer.

Recaro’s CL6720 seats transform into a 1.98-meter lie-flat bed. Photo: Recaro

An unusual, but welcome move from Air China

And that makes this an unusual, albeit welcome, move by Air China. Historically, the long-haul cabin hard product across Chinese airlines has lagged that of most other long-haul airlines. Passengers could frequently snag a premium-cabin bargain flying long-haul on airlines like Air China, but the cabin product often reflected this.

But now, at least onboard the second wave of Airbus A350-900s due to arrive at the airline, Air China will push to the front of the pack. Recaro calls their CL6720 seat “nothing less than the next generation of business class traveling.”

Lucky business class passengers will get a 78″ (1.98 meter) lie-flat seat with the aforementioned sliding door and privacy dividers. Recaro is light on hard specs for the CL6720, possibly because individual airlines tinker around the edges, adding (or detracting) bells and whistles that can significantly impact the overall travel experience.

High privacy dividers will add to the premium mini-suite feel on Air China’s newest A350-900s. Photo: Recaro

A winning choice by Air China

But the German seat manufacturer does say their CL6720 seat is the best in its class. Aside from the on-point design, the seat is visually appealing with high-quality trim and finish.  Recaro says even in high-density cabins, this kind of mini-suite product offers a high level of personal space.

“The mini-suite feel is created through the smooth sliding doors, quality finish and ambient lighting. State-of-the-art ergonomic features include numerous comfort positions, a six-way adjustable headrest, premium foam technology and a 1.98-meter bed length,” Recaro says about its CL6720 seat.

Recaro also points out the seat is a smart choice for airlines. While lie-flat beds in mini-suites will always prove a hit with passengers, the economics have to work for the airline. Recaro says the CL6720 seat is the lightest seat in its class, weighing 10%-20% less than comparable seats. This translates into fuel savings and lowers CO2 emissions.

“By finding innovative ways to lengthen the seat’s life cycle with the use of high-quality and durable materials, the CL6720 supports airlines in their pursuit of reducing the industry’s carbon footprint,” Recaro says.

Air China already operates 15 Airbus A350-900s. They sport B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seats, and there is no word on whether Air China will swap them out for the up-to-the-minute Recaro CL6720 seats. But the second round of A350-900s coming to Air China from mid-2022 (another 15 are due to arrive) will feature the new Recaro seats. For Air China loyalists, it will be a matter of boarding the right aircraft.