BA A320s to be either 168 or 174 seats

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”.

Tom Otley

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  • `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”.`

    What a load of rubbish. What passengers are paying for in CE is for what BA promises in their advertising of CE, including far more comfort, privacy, better service, etc., etc., etc. (they best change the picture in their adverts quick as well as these are showing the seats they are now replacing). Reducing seat pitch for CE simply because the more fixed layout was giving those in economy `too much` legroom for free, is an absurd reason. Could they not reduce the number of fixed CE convertible seats? Or, perhaps, cant he just be honest and say to remain competitive with LCC`s they need to cram as many of us in the space as possible, and that short haul business class will soon be a thing of the past!?

  • Good to see these sensible and pragmatic changes being lead by Willie Walsh, in response to changing market conditions. Airlines cannot afford not to adapt to their customers’ requirements.

    This new, slimmer seating will release significant useable space into the cabin for passengers’ use, stop the bizarre practice of giving those towards the front of the economy cabin better pitch than those at the rear, and keep fares lower for everyone.

    BA is maintaining short haul business class, and continues to differentiate. Some of the best shorthaul lounges in Europe, terrific on board service and food options as well as some of the best timed flights from HEathrow to key European business and leisure destinations.

    Dinosaurs may continue their doublespeak, decrying changes which maintain the viability of offering a business class cabin while at the same time announcing its demise, but nobody’s fooled.

  • SM, you state `Airlines cannot afford not to adapt to their customers’ requirements.` So this change to the configuration is what CE customers have been asking for??? Talk about double speak.

    The only true differentiator you mention are the lounges which I agree are some of the best around. But for the rest, sorry, food is superior on LH/OS/LX and service often is too on those and others.

    When I pay extra, I actually want more comfort, and I do not see the point in paying so much extra for equal space as in economy. All things now being equal to the other carriers, why then choose BA? I am Gold, so lounge access is not an issue, I am FTL with Star, so again lounge access not a problem. So tell me the differentiator I should still be paying for to fly CE.

    Dinosaurs may continue to be blinded by their one sided allegiance to one carrier, but then again, Dinosaurs did eventually become extinct!

  • Always remember that dinosaurs have feet and can walk to different pastures.

    The bottom line is that most all competition have the slim recaro seats that are (with the middle kept free and the right legroom) reasonably comfortable and accepted.

    Airlines simply want to quickly slide the divider to cater for premium cabin demand. However, for me the biggest question would be how much legroom would be allocated to the front of the plane (and how many rows). This would inadvertently also mean that on an extended premium cabin (4-5+ rows) some would have less leg room.
    If it was going to be a standardised cabin (one set of leg room) making it easier for the airline then the only physical benefit the premium cabin would have is a free middle seat period.
    This is change and must be understood. The prices paid are steep and as a customer, I do not want to be short changed.

  • Perhaps BA shpuld introduce three classes? Proper business class in the first 3-5 rows, them something like AA’s Main Cabin Extra in the next few rows whereby economy passengers pay a small uplist for the extra legroom, and standard economy down the back. This would enable them to maintain the flexibility and extra legroom of the current layout, squeeze a bit of extra cash out of economy pax, and avoid the backlash of people saying there is no longer any point in flying CE

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