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
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 0556 GMT (1356 HKT)
From Maastricht to Melbourne, these itineraries make bookish travelers look stylish.
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
Good cocktails combine with spectacular views across rivers, cityscapes and oceans at these bird-level drinkeries.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1809 GMT (0209 HKT)
A California homeowner's nightmare has become a cautionary tale for those who rent their homes to strangers.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 0226 GMT (1026 HKT)
Cinema loves portraying the lives of expats. Sometimes it gets it right. Sometimes it casts Nick Nolte as a jungle king.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0117 GMT (0917 HKT)
Don't be intimidated, says a local expert. Here's how to do China without the hassles
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
When your city has an unenviable reputation for insulting tourists and fleecing them for every cent, inviting hotel guests to pay what they want could be a risky move.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 0710 GMT (1510 HKT)
1937 Auto Union V16 Streamliner, Audi Museum, Germany
With factory tours and collections of stunning vintage prototypes, southern Germany is petrolhead paradise.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1344 GMT (2144 HKT)
Every tourist destination has a flip side, a season when prices go down and savvy, flexible travelers can score big savings.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0711 GMT (1511 HKT)
A Marrakech lamp bazaar
Morocco's Red City is crammed with stunning gardens, shaded souks and steamy bath houses.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1652 GMT (0052 HKT)
Santo Stefano Island, Italy
Pristine beaches, unspoiled nature and few tourists -- a stretch on these former penal colonies is no longer a punishment.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0628 GMT (1428 HKT)
Life in Joburg can be stressful. Luckily there are some exceedingly non-stressful places close by.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 0907 GMT (1707 HKT)
Istanbul skyline
CNN's Ivan Watson pays homage to the city he's called home for the past 12 years.
China notches up another superlative achievement as a Nanjing-based artist creates the world's largest and longest anamorphic painting.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 2002 GMT (0402 HKT)
In what is undoubtedly the world's "coolest" surf video, photographer Chris Burkhard endures freezing temperatures, blizzards and injury to capture Arctic waves and their riders.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0339 GMT (1139 HKT)
Few airline routes are as cutthroat as the one that travels between London and New York. It is the world's busiest route and there are few lengths airlines won't go to in the hopes of getting a piece of the action.
ADVERTISEMENT