Delta Air Lines has placed an order for 5,600 of Recaro’s CL3710 economy-class seats for its Airbus A350-900 aircraft. Image via Recaro

APEX Insight: As airlines work to update their cabins and equip new aircraft, Recaro is increasing its share of the global seating market and preparing for further growth.

Delta Air Lines has announced that it will outfit its 25 new Airbus A350-900 aircraft with Recaro’s CL3710 economy-class seats, placing an order for 5,600 of the 2016 German Design Award winning model. Delta is investing considerably in improving the long-haul passenger experience for its Airbus A350-900 aircraft, which will also debut the airline’s new Premium Select cabin and the Crystal Cabin Award-winning Delta One Business class suite. While Delta officially took delivery of its first A350 in Toulouse last week, the aircraft remains at Airbus for installation of the new Gogo 2Ku antenna, to support Delta’s extended in-flight Wi-Fi offering.

This is the latest in a slew of orders and installations announced by Recaro over the past few months. Last week, Shandong Airlines placed an order for 6,000 CL4400 and BL3530 seats for its new Boeing 737 MAX fleet and earlier this month, easyJet selected Recaro’s lightweight SL3510 seats for its 130 new A320NEO aircraft – an order of 20,000 units. The airline has outfitted its fleet exclusively with Recaro seats since 2015.

El Al became the first airline to install Recaro’s new CL6710 business-class seats for the re-designed Dreamliner experience earlier this year and Recaro seats are used throughout the aircraft in premium economy and economy class. In June, Star Alliance member airline Avianca of Colombia became the first airline in South America to place an order for the manufacturer’s CL3170 model economy seats. The 3,170 units will be installed on the airline’s short- to mid-haul A320 aircraft. The CL3170 is designed for long-haul travel and includes a six-way adjustable headrest, an in-flight entertainment system and optimized legroom.

News gushed from seating manufacturing during Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in April. Alaska Airlines became the launch customer for Recaro’s new CL4710 domestic First class seat, selected by the airline for its passenger comfort features and personal electronic device integrations. Portuguese flagship TAP extended its Recaro orders to include 4,100 CL3710 and CL6710 seats to support its ongoing fleet retrofit program. Hainan Airlines placed its third order for CS3710 seats this April, for nine of its 34 new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and China Southern ordered more than 2,000 CL3710 seats for its new A330-300. The manufacturer also sold 8,000 units of its CL5710 business class and BL3530 economy seats to Shenzhen Airlines and was awarded an order to equip FlyDubai’s 58 Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes with CL3710 seats. Gulf Air likewise selected the CL3710 seat for its 10 new Boeing 787-9 aircraft and 29 Airbus A320/321 neo aircraft; a deal valued at over  €35 million

Just after AIX, Recaro announced an order of 9,000 SL3510 seats from IAG airlines British Airways and Iberia for their A320neo aircraft, scheduled for delivery in early 2018. Recaro customer SAS, which has equipped its entire short-haul fleet with Recaro BL3520 seats, ordered 5,000 modification kits to install USB power outlets in May, to help satisfy the needs of its hyperconnected passengers.

“Over the past ten years, Recaro has grown organically by almost 10 percent per year.”  Mark Hiller, CEO, Recaro

In its reporting of the 2016 financial year published this April, Recaro reported increased sales of nearly 11% to  €452 million. The company also set a record delivery of more than 100,000 seats last year. Nearly a third of the seats sold in 2016 were new products.“Over the past ten years, Recaro has grown organically by almost 10 percent per year, making it one of the fastest growing companies in our industry,” said says Dr. Mark Hiller, CEO and Shareholder, Recaro Aircraft Seating. “With innovative products, new service concepts, a growing customer base and many new orders, we were able to build on our success last year and establish a strong platform for capacity and workforce expansion.”

The company forecasts sales exceeding  €500 million for 2018. To support this growth, the seating manufacturer will open a new 6,000-square-meter logistics center at its headquarters in Schwaebisch Hall, an investment of  €13.5 million. It also plans to expand its newest production site in Qingdao, China, which produced 10,000 seats in 2016 and is expected to double that figure this year.

Recaro’s growth is complemented by its ongoing innovations. The Crystal Cabin Award-winning manufacturer submitted a new flex seat “Smart Cabin Reconfiguration” concept this year, developed through a collaboration with Airbus, which would allow airlines to add extra seats where needed or give customers more legroom quickly and easily.

Marisa Garcia was once locked in a hangar in Oberpfaffenhofen while fine-tuning Gandalf’s new seats. Seriously. The firemen got her out. Writing is less confining, but she has lovely memories of those hands-on days.