Insight: The popularity of premium economy class

In this month’s number-crunching insight, James Mellon, senior aviation data research analyst at Cirium, ponders the continued rise of premium economy class

In the 30 years since its introduction by Virgin Atlantic and EVA Air, premium economy has grown in popularity with passengers as more airlines add the cabin class. Positioned between the economy and business cabins, both physically and conceptually, it has become a valued offering for passengers and airline revenue managers.

As air travel rebounds from COVID-19, what are the prospects for this product in a changed travel environment? Will demand to fly premium economy continue increasing and is there greater scope for airlines to embrace it?

As of July 2022, Cirium data shows 63 airlines currently offering premium economy. Of the 22,447 Airbus and Boeing jets in service or storage, 7.5% have this cabin onboard. By comparison, 21% of these aircraft have a first class product and 40% have a business class offering. Of the 1,689 examples with premium economy, 96% belong to airlines, with the remaining 4% in storage with lessors.

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