Bloomberg News

Airbus May Offer Wider A320 Aisle Seats for Larger Passengers

February 09, 2012

Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Airbus SAS, the world’s biggest commercial-jet builder, is starting to market a new seating concept for its narrow-body planes that could provide more hip room in aisle seats for larger passengers, an executive said.

The A320 family, Airbus’s best-seller, has six seats abreast that are each 18 inches (46 centimeters) wide between the armrests. The Toulouse, France-based company is studying an idea to shrink the window and middle seats to 17 inches, the same as on a Boeing Co. 737, and widen the aisle seats to 20 inches, said Simon Pickup, director of business operations for Airbus Americas.

Carriers could charge extra for those premium seats, Pickup said yesterday at a conference near Seattle. Boeing and Airbus are seeking ways to differentiate and gain a larger share of the narrow-body market, which Boeing values at $1.95 trillion over the next 20 years.

“It offers airlines a unique way to increase ancillary revenue, it’s unique to the A320 cabin and it certainly would be the most comfortable economy-class seat offered on any current airplane,” Pickup said in an interview. The companies now split the narrow-body market about equally.

The aisles of the A320 would remain 19 inches wide in the new plan, Pickup said. That compares to 20 inches on a 737. An A320 fuselage is wider than a 737.

Airbus offered wider middle seats years ago in a plan that didn’t take off because it was presented before airlines started thinking about ancillary revenue, Pickup said. In the meantime, many carriers have begun charging for services and benefits that used to be free, including the extra leg room offered in exit- row seats.

--Editors: Stephen West, Pete Young

To contact the reporter on this story: Susanna Ray in Seattle at sray7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net


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