The remorseless quest to stuff increasingly large people into increasingly tighter space in airliners continues at Airbus, and Boeing can’t fail to get on board with a similar move.
If the Airbus announcement about fitting more seats into its single aisle A321NEO jet is correct, you won’t feel a thing.
Those of us who are more than around 180 cms tall may take some convincing, but the bean counters will no doubt be thrilled by getting up to 236 seats to sell in a jet that currently maxes out at 220 passengers.
This is how Airbus breaks the news:
Airbus is offering airlines brand new options for configuring the generous floor space offered by the A321neo. These allow more flexibility and thus increase the number of seats at the same comfort standard. In addition, the maximum exit limit is raised beyond 220 seats. These new cabin options capitalize on recent innovations in cabin monuments and seat design which allow airlines more efficient use of cabin space without compromising passenger comfort. The new cabin options will enter into service in the second half of 2017.
The first new option consists of an additional over-wing exit door which raises the current maximum exit limit so operators can make even more use of the available cabin floor space. When this new option is combined with the Space-Flexaft cabin configuration, the A321neo can accommodate up to 236 seats, 16 seats more than today’s maximum seating, which leads to a reduction in seat mile costs of five percent.
In conjunction with the additional over-wing exit door, a second new option is available whereby the forward exit is de-activated. This creates a seamless, undivided forward cabin allowing additional seats and even more flexibility in multi-class seat arrangements. This option will be of particular use in longer range markets where high comfort standards are needed in Premium class.
The natural competitor to the A321 now and in NEO guise is the 737-900ER and the forthcoming 737 MAX 9. But it could be that by some calculations, the natural competitor to both would be a well maintained second hand Boeing 757, an airliner only flown in domestic service in this country as a long thing misery tube as an alternative jet during the domestic pilot dispute of 1989.
Hawaiian Airlines recently ordered 16-25 of the A321NEOs, however it says it will only fly them with 190 passengers in a two class configuration. The A321NEO is also a significant part of the American Airlines future re-fleeting plans, a carrier which is coincidentally a major user of Boeing 757s.