British Airways is keeping its cards close to its chest on its next generation Club World business class seat, due to take wing in 2019 aboard the airline's new Airbus A350 jets.
The airline has refused to confirm or deny reports that CEO Alex Cruz has nuked the rumoured 'Club World Mk III' design (below), based on a modernisation of the current decade-old seat, and will instead opt for an off-the-shelf product from leading seatmaker Zodiac Aerospace.
A spokesman for British Airways declined to comment to Australian Business Traveller on plans for the seat, and offered up this press release copy-paste statement: "We are investing £600m specifically in Club World, including outstanding catering and luxurious White Company bedding - plus, from 2019, a new seat with direct aisle access."
In mid-July 2017 British Airways was decidedly more forthcoming in swatting down suggestions that it would adopt an all-new design rather than just 'update and evolve' the current Club World seat, with a spokeswoman telling Australian Business Traveller that "Nothing has changed... plans are well advanced now, and we haven’t changed our tack or design."
The shape of seats to come...
British Airways' current Club World seat, launched to great fanfare at London's Canary Wharf in November 2006 is best known by business travellers for its 'high density' approach to maximising the number of passengers in the available space, as well as a relatively unique forwards-backwards seating layout.
The ensuing decade has seen competing airlines forging ahead: spacious business class seats boasting privacy, direct aisle access plus ample personal and storage space are now the norm.
There's been no shortage of speculation over BA's 2019 Club World seat, fuelled in part by the airline's series of patent applications over recent years.
That includes this radical curvy sofa-seat...
.. which would see passengers adopt a forward-facing position for the taxi, take-off and landing stages of the flight, but stretch out – with an infill section of the sofa creating a continuous surface between the seat and the ottoman – to relax or sleep.
There was also this more conventional 'herringbone' layout with angled seating...
... and this oddball layout which seems to double-down on the forwards-backwards orientation and 'stare at your fellow flyers' position.
This concept is perhaps closest to the British flag-carrier's current Club World configuration....
... and would allow the airline to retain its profitable 'high density' cabin layout, with some benefits from the wider cabin footprint of the A350.
This month's conjecture suggests that British Airways has flicked through the Zodiac Aerospace catalogue and drawn a big red circle around the SkyLounge Core model.
This happens to be the same platform as used by Emirates in its Airbus A380 business class, although BA would undoubtedly see it heavily customised and totally de-blinged.
Whatever British Airways has settled upon, the final design is expected to break cover – officially or otherwise – by the tail end of this year.