follow the author on twitter @TodayInTheSky
The dreaded middle seat may soon become harder to avoid. That's thanks to a new seat layout unveiled by
Airbus this week at the Aircraft Interior Expo in Hamburg, Germany.
The European jetmaker has come up with a seating layout giving airlines the option for even more seats in the economy section of its A380 double-decker superjumbo jet. Airbus is doing so with a layout that squeezes an extra seat into each row in economy.
Previously, Airbus' high-density configuration for its A380 fit 10 seats per row. Now, there will be 11 for airlines that chose the layout. Airbus showed a mock-up of the 11-across seating in Hamburg that featured a 3-by-5-by-3 arrangement.
The layout is one of three new economy class "choices" Airbus customers can select for their planes. They're dubbed Premium, Comfort and Budget.
TODAY IN THE SKY: Emirates pushes A380 seating capacity past 600
Business Traveller magazine writes "Premium will be similar to today's premium economy product, which comes with a 19-inch width, and is aimed at business and wealthy leisure travelers." The Comfort layout will be similar to a typical economy seat.
But it's the Budget layout that will feature the 11-across seating in the A380 and will be targeted toward carriers looking to lure more coach-class passengers while keeping fares low. They could be installed into Airbus' planes as soon as 2017, according to NBC News.
"Ninety percent of world travelers are economy but not all are homogeneous," Christopher Emerson, Airbus SVP of Marketing, tells the Leeham Co. aviation consultancy via its News and Comment blog. "We want to give a choice to the 90% of the economy passengers.
"They are going to be the driver of the growth, the doubling of growth in the next 15 years," he adds.
A Budget configuration also apparently will be available on Airbus' other widebodies, which would lead to narrower seating in a 9-across layout on Airbus' A330s and a 10-across layout on its A350s. Emerson tells Leeham Co. that those layouts were designed for markets where price is fliers' top -- and perhaps only -- concern.
"This is the Budget Economy matter," Emerson says to Leeham, noting such markets skew heavily toward China and Southeast Asia. "They are completely agnostic to comfort."
As for the extra A380 seats, how has Airbus come up with the room?
"Airbus has achieved its record density by cutting seat width by between 1 and 0.5 inches, slashing armrest widths by just over 2cm (nearly an inch), angling window armrests outwards, trimming aisles and — in perhaps the worst case of foot space restriction for window passengers since Bombardier's Q400 turboprop — jamming window seats up against the wall so far that they overhang six inches above the start of the curved sidewall."