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First class becoming rarer as Korean carriers nix priciest seats

[SINGAPORE] The most exclusive airline seats are becoming harder to find, with two South Korean carriers becoming the latest to eliminate first class on some of their flights.

Korean Air Lines Co. will do away with first-class seats on 27 routes starting June 1, while Asiana Airlines Inc. will no longer offer the products on any of its services starting Sept. 1, according to separate statements from the country's two biggest carriers Tuesday. The carriers will allocate more capacity for business class on those flights, they said.

The carriers are following competitors such as Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Emirates, which have been adding more business-class offerings over the past few years as demand for first-class seats declined on certain routes. The airlines have also expanded the more modestly priced sections of the cabin with options such as premium economy.

Korean Air will operate 76 routes with business and economy class seats in June, compared with 49 now, the company said. Asiana will offer what it calls business suites on its six A380 planes, which will be on average 30 percent to 40 percent cheaper than first-class fares.

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