Certain routes just demand more crowded seating to be viable, and not every passenger market seems to mind as much, but that's still a lot of people on a single plane.
When Emirates announced that it will increase the density of its A380 flying between Dubai and Copenhagen earlier this year, up to 615 passengers, there was a bit of an uproar. In fact, the airline added capacity by converting this aircraft from a three class to a two-class configuration, which spreads the space out a bit more evenly and means that passengers at the back will still get legroom similar to what they currently experience. The airline eliminated the First class cabin, which had low demand in this market, as Sir Tim Clark, the airline’s President and CEO, explained in Copenhagen earlier this year.
Emirates would like to fit even more people onboard an A380. The top item on Clark’s wish-list is for Airbus to develop a stretch version of the A380 which could fit up to another 150 seats, bringing the total passengers of an A380 to 765. This seems a lot, but it would be a bigger aircraft, designed to fly that many people. Airbus isn’t keen to build it. Clark offered to buy 100 stretch A380s, immediately, if Airbus said they’d make the plane, but Toulouse has not yet been tempted to move forward.
Transaero Airlines, Russia, has more ambitious capacity plans for its A380. The airline has said it will put 652 passengers on its aircraft, in a three cabin configuration—including 12 Imperial class (First) seats, 24 Business class seats, and a whopping 616 Economy class seats.
When questioned about this high-density, the told us that it “took into account its positive experience of operating of the fleet of widebody aircraft as well as the market demand.”
Transaero says its passengers have been happy with its 747-400s, which fit 522 passengers onboard, in a two-class configuration. The Boeing 747 could accommodate two-class seating up to 568 passengers, with 24 premium seats and 544 economy. The airline clarified that this A380 is slated to fly between Moscow-Vladivostok and on “mass demand routes” such as the Dominican Republic and Thailand.
The Russian carrier, second only to Aeroflot in the market, has recently refreshed its brand image and introduced a number of passenger comfort improvements with zero cabin footprint; that is to say they add comfort without taking up significant space.
While Transaero would not confirm the interiors plans for its new A380s, it shared details of its new 747-8 aircraft, to be delivered at some point next year. That aircraft will have 464 seats, in three classes (8 Imperial, 32 Business, and 424 Economy). The 747-8 can generally fit 467 passengers in a three-class configuration. It will also feature mood lighting, embedded seat-back In-Flight Entertainment system (Panasonic’s eX3), and on-board Wi-Fi—including streaming entertainment.
But, for now, its 652 passenger A380 is in a holding pattern. Previously reported to be delivered this summer, a Transaero Spokesperson tells us that, while it has an “acting contract for delivery of four Airbus A380s,” it is “taking into consideration the economic conditions, at present we are conducting talks with the partners to adjust the delivery schedule and on possibility to alter the financing scheme. This is related to the current situation in the banking sector.”
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