Airbus combining A380 crew rests to fit additional seats

Airbus is developing a combined crew rest for the A380 as part of its efforts to increase seating capacity on the type.

The airframer’s programme chief, Didier Evrard, detailed the plan during a briefing in Toulouse.

Airbus has witnessed a “lot of diversity” in the A380 cabin layout, he says. “When you look at this, you can see a clear trend towards getting a more efficient cabin.”

By combining the forward flight-deck crew rest area, located behind the cockpit, with the aft underfloor cabin-crew rest station, the airframer believes it can free sufficient space to install six premium-economy passenger seats.

Evrard showed a timeline during the briefing indicating that the combined rest area would emerge around 2017.

Use of premium-economy seating and development of 11-abreast layouts are among the strategies Airbus is employing to strengthen the A380’s cabin economics. The airframer is pitching the jet with a typical 544-seat arrangement, claiming that a 291-seat Boeing 777-9X – a layout providing similar seating comfort – would have a 23% higher per-seat cash operating cost.

“We are focusing on having an A380 which is more attractive, which is – from an economics point-of-view – more efficient, with an optimised cabin,” says Airbus chief executive Fabrice Bregier. “This is today’s priority.”

He remains upbeat about the A380’s prospects, despite acknowledging that the type “is in not such a very positive mood” because the market is “probably a little more limited than what we expected”, particularly given that certain customers are experiencing “some difficulties” in their broader operations.