Alex On…Airbus plans 400-seat A350

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  • Anonymous


    As we’ve reported on many occasions in Business Traveller the airlines simply can’t resist increasing the seat count on their planes.

    Every now and again an airplane manufacturer announces a new aircraft which will offer most (i.e. economy) passengers superior onboard comfort.

    But faced with declining yields the airlines think otherwise and decide to squeeze in more economy passengers.

    We’ve seen it with the B747, the B777 and more recently with the B787. Airbus has devised an 11-across economy layout for the A380 but no airline has yet placed an order.

    Now a 400-seat version of the new A350 is being “touted by Airbus” according to Reuters.

    Readers who have flown the A350 (a rival to Boeing’s 787) in economy class have praised the A350 for the extra space.

    Although the A350’s economy seating is configured 3-3-3 (like the B787) the A350 has a slightly wider cabin and this makes all the difference.

    But for how long ?

    Yes it is true that the better airlines will retain 3-3-3 but I can see a number of others increasing the density of their economy cabins and will most likely go 10-abreast

    A 10-across economy layout is feasible. This is what AirAsiaX proposed for its A350s although the budget airline later decided to cancel the order in favour of A330neos.

    But 10-across would be especially tight. Probably more so than with 3-3-3 on the B787.

    Do you agree ?


    Can it get any tighter than 9-across on the 787? Time for regulators to step in. If there is a definied minimum space for battery hens then surely there must be one for humans, too.


    Why do you think it is any more likely to have 10 abreast on the A350, when hardly any airlines have an extra seat (i.e. 9 abreast) on any other legacy airbus widebodies? Only a handful of LCCs have 9 abreast on A330 – no full service carriers, not even Emirates or AF/KLM or any other early adopters of 10 abreast on the 777

    The extra seat has historically been the exception rather than the rule on everything but the 787 and the 777 (DC10 10 abreast, L1011 10 abreast, A300/310/330/340 9 abreast, 767 8 abreast, etc – were all exceptions rather than the rule)


    In addition to seating density in economy cabins I think another metric that should be captured as more customers are packed in is pax per loo on long haul aircraft. It’s unpleasant if you have to wait in line for a long time – especially the older you get – and it’s also unpleasant for those seated next to the line.
    Oops,gotta run….


    cityprofessional – Thanks for your comments.

    Much depends on how airlines will configure their A350s in future years, how many classes they will offer on the flight, and so on.

    I mentioned the 10-abreast layout because, back in 2008, Airbus produced a copyright picture of this layout.

    The news piece appeared on with the relevant picture which demonstrated how this layout would be achieved. But when I checked the link today, I see that this picture has been removed !

    Emirates was the instigator of 10-across B777 in economy class.

    I know this for sure because I went out to LHR many years ago to inspect Emirates’ new B777. Emirates has configured its B777s 10-across right from day one.

    It was only when I sat in the economy cabin that I wondered why the seating was tight and the aisle narrow …compared to my previous B777 experience which until then had been with Unoted.


    Seats get smaller and passengers get larger!


    Given how much the current 777-300ER or even A330s are packed to the brim, i expect the new A350 /77X to contain somewhere around 500seats.

    Just look at how much has changed since we were all shocked at Air Canada having 458 seats in the 77W? Now all the gulf carriers’ & many other airlines have 77Ws that carry over 400 passengers.

    Imagine what they’ll do with an aircraft specified to carry 400 passengers? Add another 100+ to that!

    Also a report that went unnoticed, is the LH’s 2nd bunch of A350-900 will have 323pax (though i believe this will be a 2class aircraft).

    As long as people look at the price rather than comfort airlines will continue to add more seats and rows to their aircraft to reduce their unit costs and increase margins. Sadly.

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