Korean Air’s new A380 to feature in-flight duty free store

The Airbus A380 ‘superjumbo’ provides 50 percent more floor space compared with the Boeing 747, but airlines on average install 35 percent more seats, leaving the remaining space available for roomier cabins and customized areas. Examples include First Class suites (Singapore Airlines, Emirates), onboard showers (Emirates), large bathrooms and changing rooms (Lufthansa, Air France), social areas (Emirates, Qantas, Air France and a staffed bar (Emirates). Currently five airlines operate the A380 and in June 2011, Korean Air will become the sixth airline to start flying the superjumbo (followed by China Southern in the fall of 2011). 

Lowest A380 seat configuration sofar
With just 407 passengers, or 12 in First Class, 94 in Business and 301 in Economy (34” seat-pitch), Korean Air’s A380s will have the least dense A380 configuration so far. The entire upper deck will be dedicated to Business Class with a self-service bar in the front and a full service bar in the rear. First Class will be in the front of the main deck with its own dedicated bar, designed by Absolut Vodka, with the Economy cabin right behind it. 

In-flight duty free store
Korean Air will be the first airline in the world is outfitting its new A380s with a physical duty-free shop. The kiosk will complement the regular duty free cart service and will be  staffed by a full-time sales assistant. The store will display the best-selling items across categories such as liquor, cosmetics, accessories and fragrances and will be open for business for the duration of the flight. First Class passengers will be able to browse the shop and make purchases before anyone else, followed by Business Class and then other passengers. The orders placed by passengers will be delivered to their seats later.

Korean Air is installing the duty free shop in the rear part of the lower deck just in front of the stairs leading to the upper deck. The shop will take up the space of a lavatory, a storage closet and 13 Economy seats, so Korean Air must believe that the profit generated by the store will outweigh the revenue loss of 13 seats. Korean Air is seen as the world’s most successful inflight retailer, generating USD200 million in duty free sales in 2010, and a 2009 survey by Visa found that Koreans top the list of duty free spenders in Asia Pacific, ahead of travellers from China. 

The A380 duty free store has been designed by beauty brand L’Oréal, and is built by aircraft interior firm AIM Aviation, who earlier has created the in-flight bars and social areas for Emirates and Virgin Atlantic. Each of the five display units inside the shop weighs around 125 and up to 64 individual items can be displayed. The bottles on display have a strong magnet on the bottom to prevent them from sliding in the event of turbulence. However, in the case of severe turbulence the shop has to be emptied out. Advertising space is also available in the kiosk, with Lancôme buying the first spot. For more on the duty free concept, see this video). 

Five A380s during 2011
Korean AIr will begin its A380 service between Tokyo/Narita and Seoul/Incheon on June 1, 2011. The flight will leave Incheon International Airport in the morning and after its return to Seoul will depart for Hong Kong in the afternoon. The airline will gradually expand its A380 service to Bangkok when its second A380 arrives in July 2011, New York (third A380 in August), and LA (fourth A380 in October). Korean Air has ordered ten A380 aircraft with the first five to be delivered by the end of 2011 and an additional five by 2014. 

Related articles:
Lufthansa takes delivery of first A380 and unveils new First Class
Air France takes a less extravagant approach to cabin features in its new A380 flagship
Emirates orders 32 more A380s, grows A380 fleet to 90 aircraft
Japanese low-cost carrier Skymark to operate A380 with just 394 seats


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