Air France is looking at ways to transport more customers. Instead of increasing aircraft orders, the French carrier is looking at increasing widebody capacity. Should Air France increase widebody seating capacity, however, it would be in the economy cabin. This move comes after the demise of two French airlines and the growing dominance of low-cost carriers in the European market.
Air France widebody seating capacity increase
Reporting from Air Transport World indicates that Air France is looking to “comfortably densify the economy cabins.” Although, the capacity increase would only affect widebodies at this time. These include aircraft like Boeing 787s and Airbus A350s. It seems though that the change would only affect aircraft on order.
Why would Air France want to increase widebody capacity?
Recently, France saw the demise of both Aigle Azur and XL Airways. This marks a decrease in the number of seats available on key routes. Air France has not made an effort to grow its fleet in this aftermath. However, the airline is now able to increase their capacity without having to worry about too much competition. And, with partners like Delta Air Lines, the airline will likely be able to maintain a sizeable load of connecting passengers.
Only economy class capacity would increase
Unfortunately, Air France is looking to densify the economy class. It is not clear exactly how the airline would do so. In other cases, like that of American Airlines, it comes at a cost of legroom and seatback entertainment. On a widebody primarily serving long-haul routes, however, it is unlikely that Air France would want to make too drastic of a change. Although, the airline could reduce the footprint of premium cabins and shave off some legroom in coach.
With the rise of low-cost travel, airlines are seeing more price-conscious travelers. And, with new aircraft flying farther than before with excellent operating economics, full-service carriers have seen a fair amount of competition. In economy class, Air France could increase capacity while limiting additional features and increasing ancillary revenue.
This would mark a different direction for Air France compared to some partners like Delta. In fact, Delta has shied away from cabin densification. Delta’s retrofitted Boeing 777s maintain a nine-abreast seating in the economy cabin. However, the real impact of Air France’s densification program would ultimately depend on what is being sacrificed.
There are some methods of densifying without drastically reducing legroom. For one, Air France could reconfigure lavatories and galleys to take up less space. At the same time, the seat type could chance to become slimmer and also take up less space.
As of now, Air France is still studying these opportunities. They have not firmly committed to increasing widebody capacity in one way or another. For now, passengers can still expect a normal Air France economy experience onboard their widebodies.
Do you think Air France will increase economy capacity? Would you fly on a densified Air France widebody? Let us know in the comments!
Simple Flying reached out to Air France for comment, however, had not heard back by the time of publication. This article will be updated if Air France responds.