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Air France Long-Haul Seat Makeover Targets Coach Customers

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Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Air France is spending 500 million euros ($674 million) on improved service that includes the first makeover of its aircraft seats in more than a decade, with perks such as USB connectivity to attract service-conscious travelers.

All economy and premium-economy seats will feature a plug for file storage devices, as well as electrical outlets and larger individual screens, according to a presentation by the airline in Paris today. The new seats will also be lighter, provide more head support, and have more flexible armrests.

“Our goal is to upgrade all of our products in long-haul, and for all segments of customers,” said Bruno Matheu, the head of Air France long-haul passenger business. “Many of the services concern families, and also babies.”

The airline is remodeling its economy and premium-economy seats first, with business and first-class to follow next year. The revamp is the first for long-haul cabins since 2000 as competition intensifies on overseas routes, particularly with Gulf-region-based carriers such as Emirates that frequently offer lower fares and have a younger fleet of aircraft.

Air France and its Dutch sister company KLM are also testing Wi-fi Internet connectivity on board and will make a decision on whether to begin offering the service after a six-month trial.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Rothman in Toulouse at aerothman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net