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Airline rolls out new business class as air travel recovers

Air France has unveiled its new business class cabin, saying that the new two-meter bed is one of the longest on the market.

The airline, which is investing some €110 million in its business class cabin, will offer the new seat on long-haul services from the end of this year.

The lie-flat seat bed uses a footrest to extend its length to over two meters in the bed position and is 61 centimeters wide.

It also uses a shell structure to offer more privacy to passengers, along with simplified buttons to change between positions and lighter materials, which make it more environmentally friendly.

Air France has also widened the video screen to 15 inches (in a 16:9 widescreen format), offering a noise-reducing headset for passengers to use while watching one of the 85 feature films on offer.

Earlier this year, Europe's three major flag-carriers - Air France, Lufthansa and British Airways - all rolled out new first class cabins, touting new features and improved comfort and quietness for passengers.

Air France says that by investing in its business class cabins during the economic crisis, it's now in a perfect position to look after premium passengers during the recovery - which the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says is well underway.

In June, demand for premium tickets was 16.6 percent higher than June 2009, and airlines such as Singapore and Qantas have also reported a recovery in premium ticket sales.

On September 21, IATA dramatically increased its forecast profits for the airline industry, to $8.9 billion (€6.78 billion) from the $2.5 billion (€1.9 billion) forecast in June.