The world’s largest passenger jet could get a lot more crowded after Airbus revealed a new seating plan that would squeeze as many as 70 additional travellers on board and create a dreaded middle, middle seat in economy class.
If an airline adopts the arrangement, so-called ‘cattle class’ on the A380 would be realigned with 11 passengers in almost every row in a 3-5-3 configuration, as opposed to the existing 10 abreast layout.
The proposed plan – which could raise $23million (£16million) in additional revenue for airlines – would add 23 seats with a middle seat in the middle section of most economy class rows on the double-decker aircraft, which is used on long-haul flights of up to 17 hours.
Economy class passengers may not be celebrating the idea of adding an extra seat to almost every row in the middle section of the plane
Removing sidewall stowage on the top deck of the superjumbo jet would make room for 10 more lie-flat seats in business class
But Airbus, a European aeroplane manufacturer, insists the seat width in economy – 18in, one inch wider than budget airline seats – would remain the same.
In addition to expanding economy, the plan, which was discussed at this week's ILA Berlin Air Show, would increase the number of passengers travelling in premium economy and business class.
Airlines could add 18 premium economy seats by moving that cabin from the upper deck to the lower deck. Such a move would allow them to add two seats to every row, going from 63 passengers to 81.
Removing sidewall stowage on the top deck would make room for 10 more lie-flat seats in business class.
A new set of stairs at the back of the superjumbo jet would free up room for another 14 seats in economy, while three premium economy seats or five economy seats could be squeezed in by shrinking the crew rest area.
Airbus has pushed its 11-abreast concept before but no airline has signed on. This latest attempt is an effort to attract new business to its lagging A380 programme, reported the website God Save the points.
Airbus said its double-decker aircraft carry more than three million passengers a month, with a landing or departure every three minutes
An A380 was used by Emirates as it set the record for the world’s longest flight – Dubai to Auckland in 17 hours and 15 minutes
The wide-body A380 is so large it could cram 853 seats on board in a single-class (economy) configuration, although no airline has bothered to use that layout.
More than 180 A380s are currently in operation by 13 airlines, and most have around 500 seats, although totals fluctuate based on the number of classes on board and the size of the premium cabins.
Emirates set a record when it introduced a two-class A380 with 615 seats (58 in business and 557 in economy) last year.
Last March, an A380 was used by Emirates as it set the record for the world’s longest flight – Dubai to Auckland in 17 hours and 15 minutes.
British Airways, meanwhile, carries 469 passengers on its A380 aircraft in first (14 seats), business (97), premium economy (55) and economy classes (303).
Qantas, Australia’s flag carrier, has seats for 484 passengers in first (14), business (64), premium economy (35) and economy (371).
The smallest A380 configuration belongs to Singapore Airlines, which seats 379 passengers on one of its four-class versions, with 12 in first, 86 in business, 36 in premium and 245 in economy.
Airbus said the A380, which entered commercial service with Singapore Airlines in October 2007, now carries more than three million passengers a month.
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