Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Airbus to cram more seats into A380 superjumbo

By Barry Neild, for CNN
April 2, 2014 -- Updated 0141 GMT (0941 HKT)
Like many other airlines, Lufthansa's Airbus A380 economy-class formation has 10 seats per row. The plane's manufacturer says that next week it will unveil a more neighborly 11-seat-row economy-class configuration. Like many other airlines, Lufthansa's Airbus A380 economy-class formation has 10 seats per row. The plane's manufacturer says that next week it will unveil a more neighborly 11-seat-row economy-class configuration.
HIDE CAPTION
Cozy to get cozier
Airbus knows its business
All together now
Get ready for more
<<
<
1
2
3
4
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Airbus says it will unveil new economy class seating configuration that puts 11 seats in a row of its A380 superjumbo
  • Extra seats will be added by partially raising the floor of the cabin to maximize fuselage width
  • Analyst says extra seats show economic realities have caught up with luxury plans for the huge aircraft

(CNN) -- It's already capable of carrying more passengers than any other commercial aircraft, but the Airbus A380 could be about to squeeze in a few extra.

In a move that adds a dose of economic reality to airline dreams of luxuriously pimped superjumbos, the plane's manufacturer says that next week it will unveil a new 11-seat-row economy-class configuration.

By raising the three seats next to each window a few inches to take advantage of extra fuselage space, Airbus says it will create enough room to accommodate five people in the middle of the plane.

While the prospect of spending a long haul flight stuck in the middle seat might be unappealing for passengers, Airbus says it makes sense for airline revenues.

Experts say sales of the A380 have been disappointing since it was launched in 2007.
Experts say sales of the A380 have been disappointing since it was launched in 2007.

"Several customers are saying they are interested in looking at ways of making the aircraft more productive," Airbus spokesman Justin Dubon tells CNN.

Murdo Morrison, editor of Flightglobal magazine, says the new configuration indicates that financial realities are catching up with airlines, which once promised to fill their A380s with casinos and double beds.

He says sales of the European manufacturer's flagship have been disappointing since the plane was launched in October 2007.

"With the price of fuel going up so much, the focus for airlines is economizing and trying to get as many passengers as possible into an aircraft," he tells CNN.

Raised capacity

Dubon says the extra seats, which won't compromise on the existing 18-inch width of current chairs, would raise economy-class capacity by 7%.

This would mean 30 more seats in a standard cabin layout, but even when full would put the A380 well short of its maximum load capacity.

"The middle seats will be the last ones filled," he says, adding that the center seats could prove popular with families.

Airbus declined to reveal which airlines were pushing for increased capacity, but says 11-seat mockups will go on display at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, from April 8-10.

Airbus says it\'s been approached by airlines looking for ways to make the A380 more cost effective.
Airbus says it's been approached by airlines looking for ways to make the A380 more cost effective.

Morrison says that while few passengers will rush to claim the center seats, there will be no significant increase in discomfort.

"The drawback of any five-seat block is, if you are in the middle, you've always got two people to climb over, but you've already got that if you're in the window seat of a block of three," he says.

"Ultimately it is the airline's decision -- they have to get the balance between adding seat capacity and what the passengers will put up with.

"If you pack in too many it becomes claustrophobic and that could have a detrimental affect on the airline."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 0626 GMT (1426 HKT)
the Teufelsberg or
Spooks have left their mark on a once-divided city still thought to be an espionage hotbed.
August 24, 2014 -- Updated 2206 GMT (0606 HKT)
nanjing, handicrafts
With more than 6,000 years of history, Nanjing is one of the few cities in China still practicing the country's endangered traditional crafts.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1610 GMT (0010 HKT)
Rock and weather collide over millennia to create natural bridges. Here are 15 of our favorites from around the world.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 0539 GMT (1339 HKT)
A one-nun brewing operation, Sister Doris is putting Germany's women beer makers on the map. Sort of.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 0607 GMT (1407 HKT)
From Myanmar to Mickey Mouse, Stefan Zwanzger, aka The Theme Park Guy, gives his rundown of the best.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
Four hundred years after the death of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, her murderous exploits prove a grisly attraction.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1250 GMT (2050 HKT)
Formed by volcanoes and steeped in a rich history of Polynesian culture, Hawaii sounds more like a place in a fantasy novel rather than an American travel oasis.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 2356 GMT (0756 HKT)
Despite Kyoto's allure, until this year there's been a glaring absence from the city's travel scene -- a top tier, super-luxury hotel brand.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Why global adventurer Alastair Humphreys now looks for 'microadventures' close to home.
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 1133 GMT (1933 HKT)
Don't order Corona and don't freak out when you see Jessica Alba without makeup and you might pass for local.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 2301 GMT (0701 HKT)
History buff? Hardcore surfer? These South Pacific islands have every traveler covered.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1514 GMT (2314 HKT)
Airlines and airports are going high-tech to reduce your time in line.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1832 GMT (0232 HKT)
Eight of the top 10 scoring cities in the Economic Intelligence Unit's annual Liveability Survey are in Australia and Canada.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 2221 GMT (0621 HKT)
When a man tells me to "trust him," my typical reaction is to run.
ADVERTISEMENT