Russian regional leisure airline Azur Air looks ready to up the stakes by introducing a first class service after acquiring three Boeing 777-300s from Miami-based commercial aircraft leaser Aviator Capital Aircraft Managers LLC. Founded as Katekavia in 1992, the airline was rebranded as Azur Air in 2014.
Mainly focused on Russian leisure destinations in sunny climates, Azur Air flies Russian tourists to places like Cuba, Dubai, Mexico, and Thailand. Closer to home, the airline serves summer sun destinations around the Mediterranean, emphasizing the Turkish Riviera.
Azur Air has a fleet of 32 aircraft
With its central hub at Moscow’s Vnukovo International Airport (VKO), Azur Air, according to aviation statistics and data website ch-aviation, operates a fleet of 32 aircraft that comprise the following planes:
- 3 x Boeing 737-800s
- 3 x Boeing 737-900ERs
- 10 x Boeing 757-200s
- 12 x Boeing 767-300ERs
- 5 x Boeing 777-300ERs
As air travel starts to pick up following COVID-19 vaccinations, Azur Air is looking to expand its fleet by acquiring three used Boeing 777-300ERs. Two of the aircraft used to fly for Hong Kong national flag carrier Cathay Pacific while ch-aviation has new registration VQ-BTK formally operated by Virgin Australia:
- Registered as B-KPC and now VQ-BXK, Cathay Pacific took delivery of the aircraft in October 2007
- Registered as B-KPH and now VQ-BXJ Cathay Pacific took delivery of the aircraft in May 2008
- Registered as VH-VOZ and now VQ-BTK, Virgin Australia took delivery of the aircraft in January 2009
Cathay Pacific 777s only had 275 seats
When breaking the news earlier today, aviation enthusiast website One Mile At A Time pointed out that Cathay Pacific had its planes configured in a four-class layout:
- Six open suites in first class
- 53 flatbed seats in business class
- 34 recliner seats in premium economy
- 182 standard seats in economy class
As for the former Virgin Australia Boeing 777-300ER, it features a four-class layout comprising:
- 37 flatbed seats in business
- 24 recliner seats in premium economy
- 75 standard seats in Economy X
- 203 standard seats in economy
This means that the two former Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ERs will have a total of 275 seats while the former Virgin Australia triple seven will have 339 seats.
All of Azur Air’s other Boeing 777-300s have a high capacity layout of 531 seats. Only seven of these are designated as business class. One Mile At A Time claims that Azur Air will not reconfigure the planes for more seats but instead introduce a first class service on the routes that the aircraft are deployed.
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Azur Air is busy training cabin crew
One Mile At A Time adds that Azur Air intends to market its new first class service separately from its traditional business model and is busy training cabin crews for the new service.
There is even the suggestion that one of the aircraft could enter service as early as tomorrow (July 25), flying passengers from Moscow’s Vnukovo International Airport (VKO) to Milas–Bodrum Airport (BJV) in Turkey. However, when looking at the VKO departure board for July 25, the only direct flight scheduled from VKO to BJV is a Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800.
It will be interesting to see if a traditional high-density leisure airline can pull off a first class product on routes to holiday destinations.
What do you think about Azur Air first class? Will it work? Please tell us what you think in the comments.