The terrifying vision of 840 passengers crammed into an Airbus A380 has receded somewhat, with French carrier Air Austral abandoning plans for two A380s outfitted in an all-economy configuration.
The sardine-mode superjumbo would have nixed first, business and even premium economy cabins in order to maximise the number of passengers from tip to tail.
However, Air Austral's CEO tells APEX's Will Horton that flying A380 without any premium seats would starve the airline of higher-paid passengers who traditionally help subsidise the cheap seats.
“That’s going to affect the profitability, which is already at stake" says Marie-Joseph Malé, who predicts the move would ultimately "endanger the existence of the airline."
Garuda Indonesia recently revealed it's considering a ‘convertible' version of the Airbus A380 – along with the Boeing 747-8I – which could be transformed into all-economy aircraft during off-peak travel seasons.
All business class seats would be temporarily removed and replaced with economy seats, for a maximum capacity as high as 850 seats in the A380.
“Both these aircraft have this ‘quick change’ feature for converting business class into all economy class in two weeks” Garuda Indonesia CEO Emirsyah Satar told Australian Business Traveller earlier this month, adding that “we would order the aircraft with a minimum of two classes” to facilitate the change.
Supersizing the superjumbo
Airbus is already tempting potential A380 buyers with a 600-seat A380, an increase of 22 percent over the current layout, with the possibility of 11-abreast seating in economy.
The new floorplan available to A380 buyers boasts 558 seats spread across a standard three-class configuration of first, business and economy, compared to today’s 490 seats in the same mix.
“You can even go beyond 558 seats if you take away first class and do a two-class layout, and you get another five rows (of economy)” says Christopher Emerson, Airbus’ Senior Vice-President of Marketing.
That would boost the tally to 598 seats for a 22% increase on the standard 490-seat Airbus 380.
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