AirFrance: more seats in wide body economy, fewer amenities

If you already thought 9 across was tight on a 787 and the leg room limited, imagine the options available to Air France as it sets out to ‘comfortably densify’ new build 787’s and A350’s in economy class.

The loss of Aigle Azur and XL has provided an opportunity for AirFrance to take up some of the slack in economy transport, not with more aircraft but more seats – and only in economy.

It seems unlikely they’ll get another seat in a 787 row. The 3-3-3 layout common to most is about as tight as that can get without making it too narrow for the catering trolleys.

However if they took out IFE, used thinner seats like those from the newer A320’s, reduced or eliminated the IFE screens, they could get as many as as two extra rows in by reducing leg room. An extra 18 passengers even on basic economy fares is always a welcome revenue stream.

Most customers of course carry their own iPads and phones these days so have their own entertainment available.

On the A350-900’s it’s a similar story.

There are other ways like reducing galley and toilet space to make more room, but that would lead to a whole new level of cost reductions and fares – more along the Norwegian model of the seat staying the same, but meals and amenities being priced into the ticket when sold. The cheapest tickets would have nothing but hand baggage and buy-on-board snacks.

Is this where AirFrance really wants to go? Or is it simply inevitable? Other airlines already go that far on short haul, even BA and Virgin Atlantic offer ultra basic fares but not without food service.

It’s seeming to be a little ironic that just when it now has an operating space, the Joon brand has been eliminated. A little tweaking of its branding and purpose and it could easily have taken up the slack on the destinations XL and Aigle Azur once covered.

Apparently only new build 787/A350’s would get the new layout but eventually you know it will spread to the whole fleet as time and refits allow.

The airline is actively considering it. No decision has yet been made, but it seems almost inevitable it will happen.