APEX Insight: With new potential to add up to 80 additional seats, the Airbus A380 could break its own record as the highest capacity aircraft in the skies today.
Following the official opening of Aircraft Interiors Expo 2017, Airbus began the conference with a media presentation of its package of new A380 cabin enablers centered around creating additional space for up to 80 seats on the world’s largest passenger aircraft, bringing total to capacity to as high as 575 seats. The aircraft manufacturer says that the modification options were developed in response to requests for higher capacity options that would open up more revenue opportunity. A number of undisclosed customers have signed for linefit and retrofit modifications.
The most recent modification option involves a relocation of the forward staircase from Door 1 to Door 2 and merging the entrance of the upper and lower deck staircase, freeing up room for up to 20 extra seats in business, premium and economy class. Higher density seating in the cabin – 11-breast (3-5-3) in economy class and nine-abreast in premium economy – will add 34 seats to the aircraft. At the press event, Ingo Wuggetzer, vice-president of marketing for Airbus, explained that new seating configurations from Geven will allow for higher density layouts without compromising comfort. Other space-saving cabin enablers include modifications to the combined crew-rest compartment, a new aft-galley stair module and upper-deck sidewall storage removal.
The airframer also announced the launch of Airbus Interiors Services a subsidiary that that will offer bespoke, short time to market solutions based on unique customer requests. Based on the Toulouse-based Airbus Corporate Jet Centre created in 2007, the 120-person business unit can work on all Airbus platforms and with a high level of product coherence. “This is all about cabin differentiation,” says Joël Frugier, general manager. “If you want to differentiate, you have to innovate, but you also have to be first.” Airbus Interiors Services is already up and running, and has created solutions for several Airbus customers.
Later in the day, HAECO Cabin Solutions signed with Airbus as its supplier of the Centerline Ceiling Stowage (CCS) compartment linefit option for new A320 aircraft, with retrofitting also available for in-service A320s. The CCS is a storage space that can be used to stow crew luggage, onboard wheelchairs, life rafts and other emergency equipment. It is available in two sizes and can be installed in three positions, at the front, middle and back of the cabin.
At ITB Berlin in March, Airbus and Routehappy announced a partnership aimed at reaching passengers directly, and encouraging more travelers to book based on cabin product. “Information about the aircraft is really, really relevant for passengers,” says Wuggetzer. “Ninety percent of long-haul flyers care about comfort and 60 percent of business flyers pay attention to aircraft.” Wuggetzer says that Airbus tracks passenger feedback on social media and has received positive feedback about its Airspace cabin design brand. “We get all of that feedback directly from the passengers, without any surveys. It’s very inspiring for us,” he says.