Airbus reveals plan for even more passengers on A380 aircraft

The new seating plan for the A380 can fit 11 people in one row, with five seats in the middle section.

The A380 economy class cabin in a 3-5-3 seating arrangement. Courtesy Airbus
Powered by automated translation

Three-four-three, three-five-three - they sound like football formations being mulled over by managers of teams at the Euro 2016 tournament which starts this week.

But while formations are regarded as only so important when designing a winning formula on the pitch (and the goalkeeper-less line-up is unlikely, unless desperate), they are far more vital when it comes to organising people in the sky.

For this is how airlines and airplane makers look to maximise passenger numbers - and therefore profit.

And it is the three-five-three which looks set to come to fruition for Airbus, with Dubai carrier Emirates the likely recipient of a rejigged and even bigger version of the A380, the world’s biggest passenger plane, should the French manufacturer go ahead with the design.

The new seating plan for the A380 can fit 11 people in one row, one more than the previous line-up.

Re-arranging fixtures and fittings within the A380 could accommodate 60 more customers without reducing the width or pitch of its seats, Kiran Rao, Airbus’s director of strategy and marketing, told Bloomberg.

One way to shoehorn more passengers on board would be to alter the staircases that connect the double-decker jet’s two passenger floors.

Bloomberg reported that existing A380 customers suggested that curved steps located toward the rear of the world’s biggest jetliner are rarely used since passengers have little need to move between levels, opening up the possibility of making them less of a design feature to create more room.

Emirates has been the biggest purchaser of the A380, having ordered 142, of which 77 were said last month to be in operation. The carrier has said that it could increase the number beyond 200 when it moves to Dubai’s second airport, Al Maktoum International at Dubai South.

Last year, Emirates started using a two-class configuration of the A380, featuring 58 flat-bed seats in business class and 557 seats in economy. This compares to a total of 489 seats in its three-class ultra long range A380 and 517 in its long range version.

The airline’s president Tim Clark said last week at Iata meeting in Dublin that he has all but given up on the re-engined A380neo. He said that talks with the manufacturer regarding an upgrade had “kind of lapsed”.

Follow The National's Business section on Twitter