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JetBlue Airways Corp.’s plan to add more seats to its Airbus SE A320 planes is running into an obstacle: broken toilets.
The Space Flex lavatories supplied by Zodiac Aerospace are crucial to JetBlue’s plan to reconfigure its fleet of A320 jets. The airline will set a “formal review” in November with Airbus and Zodiac to evaluate repairs on the 21 A321 aircraft where the product has already been installed, and determine how to proceed on the A320s, Chief Financial Officer Steve Priest told analysts Tuesday on the carrier’s quarterly conference call.
Last month, JetBlue began fixing the “design challenge” posed by Zodiac’s Space Flex version 2 galley and lavatory product, which is located at the rear of the passenger cabin on the A321s, Priest said. “The last thing we want to do is put this product on our A320 aircraft and then have to bring them back for service,” he said.
The Space Flex cabin for the A320 family is designed to optimize space and allow for denser aircraft seating. But “equipment quality hasn’t been up to standard and we’ve seen alignment issues in the installation,” JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw said in an email. “These problems are leading to a high rate of inoperable parts and out-of-service lavatories.”
JetBlue has said its plan to increase seats on the A320 to 162 from 150 will bring in about $100 million in additional annual revenue. Priest said the airline remains “absolutely confident” it will be able to proceed with the denser A320 seat configuration.
Zodiac introduced the latest Space Flex version in late 2014. In recent years, Zodiac’s manufacture of passenger seats led to delivery delays on some Boeing Co. aircraft destined for United Continental Holdings Inc. and American Airlines Group Inc.
–With assistance from Mary Schlangenstein
©2017 Bloomberg L.P.