The A380 has been helping its operators capture more business, open new routes and increase profits since 2007 – confirming this double-deck jetliner’s reputation as the new “queen of the skies.” And as passenger demand continues to grow worldwide, Airbus is taking steps to further improve the A380’s already-high revenue potential.
Responding to customer feedback, Airbus formed a team of technical experts to generate new ideas for enhancing the A380’s cabin economics – about two-thirds of which are now being developed for availability beginning with new-production aircraft delivered in 2017.
A particular focus was put on high-value seating, reflecting the growing industry trend toward premium economy services – which already have been introduced by five of the A380’s 13 operators to date.
“We’re matching this trend by developing an 11-abreast economy main deck layout, retaining our 18-inch seat comfort standard,” said Frank Vermeire, the Head of A380 Marketing at Airbus. “By combining the move from 10 to 11 abreast in economy, and the addition of a premium economy class, we can stay at an equivalent seat count. The increase in yield adds about 13 million dollars a year in revenue.”
The sidewall lining also can be rotated to gain a .85 inch of additional space at arm rest level, as well as to expand legroom by 1.5 inches. This set-up offers the same economy standards as all other Airbus jetliners.
Furthermore, seat numbers can be increased by combining the lower deck flight and cabin crew rests and deleting the upper deck sidewall stowage. New lie-flat beds can then be pivoted and moved closer together, making space for 10 additional business seats. Work on relocating the crew rest from behind the cockpit to the lower deck, in order to add six premium economy seats, is ongoing and will be offered to customers beginning in mid-2016.
Vermeire added that such cabin modifications/enhancements (called enablers) are very attractive to customers due to their impact on profitability. “Generally a 1 per cent cost reduction leads to 2 per cent profitability, but for revenue the leverage is much greater at 1 per cent to 4 per cent,” he explained. “Reducing fuel burn can require significant investment, but that required for cabin enablers is smaller and the revenue payback is large. Premium economy, together with the cabin enablers, delivers 20 million dollars a year of additional profit for airlines – to match that through fuel burn you’d need a 50 per cent improvement.”