The reported reconfiguration of the British Airways short-haul fleet (see news, December 19) is still being debated, according to Willie Walsh.
The IAG chief executive revealed that the carrier’s A320s will contain either 168 or 174 seats.
Speaking at the CAPA Airlines In Transition 2014′ conference in Dublin, Walsh said: “For the A320… it will be 168 or 174 seats — between those figures.”
He defended the move to add seats to BA’s short haul-fleet, saying: “The reconfiguration of the aircraft is being facilitated by the new seat technology which is much more efficient.
“The old seats were very large, very heavy and took up a lot of space that wasn’t for the benefit of the customer.”
Walsh said that the aircraft are configured for a “…historical level of premium travel on our short-haul network which has significantly reduced”.
He added: “The seat pitch on the first half of the aircraft was much greater than the back half and that was typically to reflect where the curtain was assumed to be. That curtain has moved way forward.
“What we were doing is giving a lot of additional pitch to people who weren’t travelling premium. So with this change we can adjust it to reflect what we believe the sustainable level of premium traffic on our network.”
When asked if passengers might feel they were losing out in the new arrangement, Walsh said he thought not, since Club Europe passengers as well as having the middle seat blocked, and having a more comfortable seat because of the new technology, were also paying for a “differentiated service”.