High-Density Madness: Cebu Pacific to Squeeze 460 Economy Seats on an Airbus A330neo

Jun 18, 2019

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Philippine airline Cebu Pacific announced an order for 31 Airbus aircraft on Tuesday, announcing the deal at the Paris Air Show. The deal includes 16 A330-900neos, 10 A321XLRs and five A320neos; there also are options for 10 additional A321neos. But the order was highlighted by what the airline plans to do on the interior of those aircraft — specifically the wide-body A330neos.

When Cebu Pacific begins to take delivery of the A330neos in 2021, they’ll come equipped with a whopping 460 seats in an all-economy configuration. Presumably, that means a dense 3-3-3 configuration as well as very narrow seats.

By a point of comparison, TAP Air Portugal took delivery of its first A330neo in November 2018 and has just 289 seats in a three-class configuration. AirAsia X, which unveiled its first A330neo at the Paris Air Show on Monday and is also a low-cost carrier, features 365 economy and 12 business-class seats on board its aircraft in a two-cabin configuration. That’s a total of 377 seats, 83 fewer than Cebu’s configuration.

Unlike Virgin Atlantic, which ordered 14 A330neos on Monday at the Paris Air Show and plans to fly them on long-haul routes, Cebu Pacific plans to fly its new high density A330neos on shorter-haul routes.

Cebu Pacific’s route network centers around its hub in Manila. It extends as far west as Dubai and as far east as Guam. Cebu also flies to both Melbourne and Sydney in Australia. Cebu Pacific Chief Financial Officer Andrew Huang said the new A330neos will be used on the carrier’s “short-haul environment.”

Perhaps the shorter routes mean a slightly more comfortable journey for the 460 passengers that are jammed in the A330neo. That said, the likely reduced legroom, narrow seats and overall high density will make for a sardine-like experience.

The configuration of the A321XLRs that the carrier announced on Tuesday have yet to be released. The order marked the third of its kind for the just-announced A321XLR.

Meanwhile, on its A320neos, Cebu Pacific’s trend of high density configurations will continue with 194 seats on board. For comparison, most A320neo operators top out at 180 seats.

All images courtesy Airbus.

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