Airbus Details Plans to Add 80 More Seats to the A380

Apr 4, 2017

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In case the superjumbo A380 wasn’t big enough for you already, Airbus shared plans that airlines could use to add 80 more seats to the aircraft. In order to accommodate the additional seats, however, there will need to be some cuts. At the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, Airbus detailed its proposals to increase the number of passengers that can fit on board.

One of the plans includes removing an upper-deck storage area, allowing Airbus to add 10 business-class seats. The company also said that it could reduce the size of and reposition the staircase, resulting in an additional 20 premium economy seats and 23 economy seats. In such a case, the economy cabin would be arranged in a 3-5-3 configuration (you thought 10-across was bad?), the premium economy cabin would be arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration and the business-class cabin would be arranged in a 1-2-1 staggered configuration.

If the staircase change is made, it’ll be less of a grand staircase and more of a utility-minded feature that is configured straight rather than spiraled. In addition, Airbus proposed that it could move the pilot rest area so it’s next to the crew sleeping quarters so there can be three additional premium economy seats.

The current A380 aircraft typically seats around 550 passengers on two decks. However, some carriers prefer to feature fewer seats in exchange for space for other amenities, such as a bar. As a point of comparison, here’s the number of seats and configurations on the five airlines with the largest A380 fleets:

  • Emirates (93 A380s) — 14 first-class suites (1-2-1); 76 business-class seats (1-2-1); 427 economy seats (3-4-3) — 517 total passengers
  • Singapore (19 A380s) — 12 first-class suites (1-2-1); 86 business-class seats (1-2-1); 311 economy seats (3-4-3) — 409 total passengers
  • Lufthansa (14 A380s) — 8 first-class suites (1-2-1); 78 business-class seats (2-2-2); 52 premium economy seats (2-4-2); 371 economy seats (3-4-3) — 509 total passengers
  • Qantas (12 A380s) — 14 first-class suites (1-1-1); 64 business-class seats (2-2-2); 35 premium economy seats (2-3-2); 371 economy seats (3-4-3) — 484 total passengers
  • British Airways (12 A380s) — 14 first-class suites (1-2-1); 97 Club World seats (2-4-2 downstairs and 2-3-2 upstairs); 55 World Traveller Plus seats (2-3-2); 303 economy seats (3-4-3) — 469 total passengers
Emirates A380
The 1-2-1 business-class configuration on Emirates’ A380.

Airbus says that the new configuration and additional seats could make the superjumbo A380 more appealing to customers. Many airlines have shied away from placing any A380 orders, and there haven’t been any orders from a US carrier. In fact, according to Bloomberg, Emirates is the only meaningful prospective buyer left, and that’ll remain as such only if the A380 gets a new engine.

It remains to be seen if this new configuration will be the hit Airbus desperately needs. As the state of superjumbo jets in the future is unclear, it’s interesting to see how Airbus is planning to combat that threat.

Featured image courtesy of Justin Sullivan via Getty Images.

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