Passengers on Airbus' new A350 jet will see a continuation of the push away from first class towards of business class. But the premium cabin will be "very luxurious" promises Airbus exec John Leahy.
"The trend tends to be more to the two-class right now, with a very luxurious business -- or a business/first with lay-flat beds -- and coach" Leahy told Australian Business Traveller during this week's Airbus Innovation Day media conference in Toulouse.
"And sometimes there's premium economy in there so that it becomes three class again," Leahy says. "It becomes business, premium economy and economy, rather than first, business and economy."
But the specific mix, as always, remains with the airline buying the composite-bodied A350.
"It all depends on the airline. Some will have first class, some will have two-class -- some will even have one class."
Airbus showed off models of its business class cabins -- including the excellent Sogerma Solstys staggered business class layout with direct aisle access for every passenger -- at this year's Innovation Day.
Behind business class will come premium economy, which Airbus demonstrated off in a 2-4-2 layout on the stretched Airbus A350-1000 variant due to fly a few years after the first A350-800 takes to the air in 2014.
Boeing's competitor 787 is also focussing more on better business class seats -- and fully flat beds -- instead of ultra-plush first class seats.
"We’re seeing many airlines starting to reduce their full-blown first class offering, mainly because business class is beyond what first class used to be," Tom Galantowicz, Boeing’s Director of 787 Interiors, explained to Australian Business Traveller late last year.
John Walton travelled to Toulouse to attend the Airbus Innovation Days as a guest of Airbus. Catch up with all the news from the Innovation Days!
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