Airbus is to name the first customer for its A330neo Airspace cabin April 6 at the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, where it is also displaying its first Airspace cabin mock-up.
Airspace is the standard baseline cabin on the A330neo, so it is not possible to receive an A330neo without the Airspace cabin. This means the to-be-named Airspace customer is likely to also be the A330neo launch operator.
“They will be the first to operate the cabin,” Airbus head of cabin marketing Ingo Wuggetzer said, speaking at AIX. He confirmed it would be an A330neo operator.
The customer is taking some Airspace add-ons beyond the baseline model. “They have clearly selected elements of the Airspace cabin very quickly,” he said. “This will be the first time that we hear an airline customer give their feedback on Airspace.”
The European manufacturer first unveiled the Airspace concept in London on March 23, although a mock-up was not displayed at that briefing. It allows for up to 10 additional seats, without compromising comfort, and will be available from the A330neo’s entry into service in 2017.
Airspace includes 95% of the cabin design elements first used on the A350, although it will officially be launched on the A330neo. The final 5% of the concept, introduced directly on the A330neo, will then be reintegrated into the A350 and, ultimately, all Airbus’ commercial aircraft products. The cabin will also be available for retrofit.
“We will have at least two programs available to fly the Airspace cabin by the end of next year,” Wuggetzer said, referring to the A330neo and the A350.
Airbus is partly stepping out of the business-to-business market with Airspace, as it wants the end passenger to actively recognize and seek out its product, then communicate about it via social media. It is hoping that airlines will actively promote the Airspace brand on board.
“Why do we need a new brand, because Airbus is a strong brand? It is to easily communicate a complex product, not only to the experts, but also to the passenger directly,” Wuggetzer said.