New short-haul charcoal gray leather seats
British Airways (BA) has unveiled new seats and cabin interiors for its short-haul fleet, which operate domestic and European services from London Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
The airline has followed the trend of utilizing new, slimline seat designs to create additional capacity.
Fitting-out work has begun on the first of 95 Airbus short-haul aircraft. The company said the new cabin designs “take inspiration from” the airline’s most recent fleet entrants, the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787.
The new, charcoal gray leather seats enable the addition of extra seats in the Euro Traveler (economy) cabin. In an A320, for example, capacity will rise from 162 to 168—an extra row.
In the A321, the longer fuselage allows for a larger increase—from 188 to 205.
A BA spokesman told ATW that seat pitch would be “pretty much the same” as existing seats. Current cabins typically have a 29- to 30-inch pitch. The new cabins will all be 30 inches. BA will continue to install reclining, as opposed to fixed-back, seats.
The new seats are designed to maximize personal space, with sculpted backs providing more knee space. An eye-level seatback tablet computer-holder also provides storage for magazines. The seats include a moveable headrest.
Business class, termed “Club Europe” will retain the previous arrangement of six-abreast seating, but with the center seat of each row kept free to give more space for premium passengers. The center seats will be bridged with a new “central console” table, providing customers with improved functional space.
Cabin LED lighting systems will include blue tones for boarding, a “candlelit mood” for dining and a “gentle white” for the cruise and landing.
“The short-haul landscape has changed enormously in recent years," British Airways executive chairman Keith Williams said. “To stay competitive … we are giving our cabins a radical makeover.”
The new interiors will be fitted across the Airbus fleet over the next 12 months.
BA still has a fleet of 19 Gatwick-based Boeing 737-400s operating short-haul services. These are due to be retired in the next six to nine months and will not receive the cabin upgrade.
The airline also said it is in discussions with satellite communications provider Inmarsat to install new broadband in its short-haul fleet. Starting with UK domestic routes, it plans to roll out what it describes as Europe’s first ground-based 4G broadband network, giving customers Internet access while airborne.