Airbus plans to offer airlines more choice in the way they configure their planes, and sees carriers opting for different levels of comfort within their economy cabins, said a senior Airbus executive.
It also plans to redefine the capacity of its wide-body jets to add premium economy to the traditional economy and business classes to recognise market trends, said Chris Emerson, head of marketing at Airbus.
Airbus now offers 9-abreast seating as the standard coach-class layout on its A350, but “there is interest in a 10-abreast layout to airlines who want to offer a leaner product in exchange for lower fares” Emerson said.
"90% of global air traffic is in the economy segment," he said.
Emerson said that airlines would increasingly look at offering differing comfort levels withinthe economy cabin. "We see more and more segmentation in the market."
Besides offering choices to passengers, seats have long been the centre of a deeper PR battle between Airbus and Boeing.
Each accuses the other of squeezing in passengers to make their planes seem more efficient on paper.
Although it still says 18 inches is the standard, Airbus is giving more weight to the option to have higher density seating to give airlines flexibility.
It has coined the terms "BudgetEconomy" or "Max Abreast" seating versus Comfort Economy.
Currently, 10% of Airbus wide-body planes are in the "Max Abreast" configuration, Emerson said.