Japan’s Skymark goes Premium Economy-only on new A330s


By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Hybrid low-cost carrier Skymark – Japan’s third largest airline – turned heads in early 2011 when it announced an order for six A380 superjumbo’s which will feature only 394 seats in a premium two-class configuration: 114 angled lie-flat Business seatss on the upper deck and 280 ‘shell-style’ Premium Economy seats on the lower deck. Skymark will take delivery of its first A380 in August 2014 and plans to fly between Tokyo and New York as the first destination, possibly followed by London and Frankfurt.

Premium Economy-only A330
As part of Skymark’s ambitious expansion plan, the Tokyo Haneda-based airline also executed leases for seven A330-300 aircraft in July 2012, with delivery scheduled from early 2014 through 2015.

Skymark’s new A330s are outfitted in a 271-seat single-class Premium Economyy configuration with a 38-inch seat pitch and 19.3-inch seat width, called ‘Green Seats’ (after the more spacious seats offered in the ‘Green Car’ on Japan’s high-speed rail), which are comparable to the domestic ‘Class J’ product of Japan Airlines.

Skymark will deploy its Premium Economy-only A330 widebodies on key domestic trunk routes from Tokyo to Fukuoka and Sapporo to win market share among business travellers. The first route is due to be Tokyo Haneda-Fukuoka at the end of March 2014, which is Skymark’s busiest route based on available seats, and Japan’s second and the world’s third busiest air route.

Cabin interior
In mid-December, Skymark reveiled its new A330-300 interior at Airbus in Toulouse and we caught up with Daniel Baron, founder of  Tokyo-based design agency LIFT Strategic Design who have been responsible for cabin styling and seat trim and finish, consulting on layout, seats and galleys. LIFT Design is also working with Skymark on the A380 cabin and seat design.

Skymark’s all-Premium Economy product features a 2 x 3 x 2 seating arrangement (compared with a regular 2 x 4 x 2 configuration for Economy on the A330). Each seat has 38 inches of legroom, which is long-haul standard for premium economy, and the 271 seats also feature leg rests – not just the front row like Cathay Pacific offers – meaning passenger’s legs are supported for the few hours they are onboard. There will be no inflight entertainment, but the airline says it is looking into inflight connectivity.

The cabin has been designed to represent a “casual urban cafe with the embracing freshness of a forest in Spring”. Whilst we can’t fully understand what that is supposed to impart, the finished product is airy, refreshing and light. A light fresh green is predominant here, matched with neutral putty finishes, providing a calm and serene environment. We like the trims of birch wooden veneer, found on the on the seat tables and golden walnut veneer in the lavatory flooring.
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Japanese low-cost carrier Skymark to operate A380 with just 394 seats


Japanese low-cost airline Skymark Airlines has signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for the purchase of four A380s and the option for two more. The official agreement will be signed in spring 2011 and Skymark has also indicated it may order a total of 15 A380s. The airline plans to introduce six A380s between 2014 and 2017, and add nine more after 2018. Skymark is the first low-cost carrier in the world, and the first airline in Japan, to order the superjumbo.

394 seats, business and premium economy class only
Skymark’s President Shinichi Nishikubo, who owns 49 percent of the airline, also told media that the airline will fit the A380 with just 394 seats in a two-class configuration – the least-dense configuration announced for the A380 by far. Skymark’s A380s will be fitted with 114 business-class seats on the upper deck and 280 premium economy seats below. No economy class will be offered. Business Class will be equipped with angled lie-flat seats at 60″ pitch and 20.7″ width, while ‘shell-style’ seats at 38″ pitch and 20.5″ width will be offered in Premium Economy. With 450 seats, Qantas is currently operating the A380 with the lowest seat-density, but the A380 typically seats 525 and is certified to carry up to 853 people. See here for an overview of A380 seating configurations currently in operation. Read full article »