French Bee Could Become The Most Efficient Long Haul Carrier

French Bee, a small but unique airline, is set to become the world’s most efficient long haul carrier. The reason for this comes down to two unique aspects of the airline’s operating model. First, the fact that it only operates the A350, and second, because of the incredibly dense configuration with which it flies them. Let me explain.

French Bee
French Bee could soon be the most economical long haul airline. Photo: French Bee

How many miles per gallon does your airplane do?

It’s not easy to compare the efficiency of different aircraft as there are so many factors in play. The density of fuel, the geography of the airports, the weather it Is flying through, the length of the route… so many things can change the outcome. However, using data gathered from airlines, we can start to understand how changing passenger numbers alters the equivalent miles per gallon (mpg) of the flight.

According to Wikipedia, the fuel burn of the A350 is one of the lowest of any long haul plane. The Boeing 787-8 has the top spot, with a fuel burn of 5.38kg/km, followed by the elusive Airbus A330-800neo at 5.45kg/km. Then it’s the 787-9, the A330-900neo and then the A350-900.

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However, if you look on the among of fuel burned per seat, the A350 is a much better prospect. When its configured with 315 seats, it has a per-seat fuel burn of 2.39l/100km, which equates to 98 mpg. That’s second only to the 304 seat configured Boeing 787-9, which clocks up 102 mpg, according to the source.

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Norwegian 787-9
The 787-9 with more passengers returns the best miles per gallon per seat. Photo: Norwegian

So, what happens when you add more seats?

While the Wikipedia resource has no examples of A350-900 mpg changes with different seating configurations, it does have a few for some other models of aircraft. For example:

  • The Boeing 787-9: With 304 passengers, the efficiency is recorded at 102 mpg. Ten seats less (294) lowers this to 94 mpg. Take away a few more passengers, and a long flight with 291 seats has been shown to reduce efficiency to just 76 mpg.
  • The Boeing 777-300ER: With 365 passengers, the aircraft achieves 81 mpg. Reduce this to 344 passengers, and the efficiency goes down to 76 mpg.

These are very generalist assumptions, as things like sector length also have a major bearing on the mpg achievable. But, it’s a start, and can lead us to the conclusion I’ve come to today.

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French Bee’s A350

French Bee is planning to take its A350-1000 with a massive 488 total seats. Already, it operates the A350-900 with 411 seats. For comparison, Singapore Airlines flies its A350 (non-ULR) with either 253 or 303 seats on board. Lufthansa’s A350s have either 293 or 319 seats, while Qatar’s have 283. This makes French Bee’s A350-900 some of the densest examples of the type out there.

French Bee -900
French Bee already operates the A350-900 with more seats than most. Photo: French Bee

And the situation is even more pronounced when we look at the A350-1000. Qatar’s A350-1000s are configured with 327 seats, while British Airways’ have 331. To ramp this up to 488 seats on board is going to send French Bee’s per seat fuel economy through the roof.

Let’s say, as we saw with the 787-9 Dreamliner, adding 10 passengers improves miles per gallon per seat by eight. The A350 with its 98 mpg for 315 passengers could, therefore, be boosted by 136 mpg, giving it a total mpg per seat of 234!

Of course, none of this takes into account the routes that the aircraft will fly, or indeed how the additional weight would affect things. But it’s an interesting subject to dive into, particularly given the current climate.

A350-1000-Air-Caraibes
Its sister airline, Air Caraibes, has already taken delivery of an A350-1000. French Bee gets its own in 2021. Photo: Airbus

To put all this in context, a 63 seater bus would have around 570 mpg per seat. A car, with four seats filled, would manage around 146 mpg, whereas a hybrid like the Prius, with all five passenger seats occupied, would get up to around 240 mpg.

Of course, as much as nobody wants to be a middle seat passenger in the back of a Prius, neither will they relish the thought of being on French Bee’s super dense A350-1000. Almost 500 passengers? Crazy.

Would you fly it? Let us know in the comments.

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Alexandre Vachez

The A350-1000 can carry a maximum of 480 pax , how are they going to add 8 pax to this limit?

Adam Simmons

I see that FB manages 10 abreast on the A350-900 but the seat pitch is reasonably good at 32″ – better than many others.

TonytTDK

How does 10-abreast compare with comparative seat widths in other contemporary twin-aisles.?
Good, bad, horrible.?
…..Worse than that.???

Armand2REP

If the ticket prices are cheap enough I would fly it, but they are giving up on premiums.

TonytTDK

The trick is filling their flights.!
It’s not cost-effective & profitable if the aircraft is half-empty.
Ryanair is not a pleasant flying experience……. but it’s not SO unpleasant that I’d definitively NOT fly with them, just that if everything else was more or less equal, I’d choose the other option,!
If FlyBee can be both cheap AND provide an acceptable level of service & comfort, you’d imagine they’ll do very, very well.?
There really is no substitute for repeat customers & positive word of mouth recommendations.!

Gerry S

Count me out. As I said elsewhere, no way am I travelling on that XWB long haul. Has to be an excruciating experience.

Frank

Please fact check your articles more thoroughly before posting, Qatar’s A359 has 283 seats!

Barend de Klerk

Tony. The B777 has a 18″ seat the A350 will have a 16.4″ seat in the same 10 abreast seating

Parker West

There are enough cheap ways to cross the Atlantic that don’t require you to play sardine for 7 hours, for this carrier to succeed. Look up Hell in your dictionary my guess would be that the thumbnail image would be of a FrenchBee A350. How do they deal with weight issues, hot and high-er airports? Oh I get it, PAs are only allowed to wear their undies and no baggage. What are the seat pitch numbers?

patrick baker

any consumer who buys into this airline deserves each rotten service they are about to want but not receive.
If you can’t afford to go comfortably,don’t go, for this is prime set-up for customer dis-satifaction.

Fernando

French Sardines in a thin tin

BRUNO MARC

I flew SFO ORY SFO in October , was great experience my dear

Matthieu

If you wonder why it is called French Bee, but has a buterfly on it, it is because when they have launched flights from Paris to Tahiti, they were planning a stopover in San Francisco. But an US carrier, Jet Blue, complained about the name, too close from theirs, and threatened them to go to courthall. So the French carrier had to quickly found a new name and became French Bee coz it sounds close to French Blue.

Shalom

Inaccurate naming: Not “long haul carrier” but most efficient torture chamber. The airlines are slowly but surely killing themselves by making air travel a torture to be inflicted only in the worst of circumstances, when absolutely impossible to avoid. Society invents ways to avoid this torture. However SOMEBODY somewhere believes that once alternative solutions would be found they could fix it in minutes by merely dropping prices. If they got rid of “economy class” (Cattle class would be more accurate but then it would be considered cruelty to animals) today and flew only business class (at economy prices) it will… Read more »

Larry

Emergency evacuation in 90 seconds???????????????????????????????????

Ted

No.

FlyingWithers

Seems fine, assuming one does not weigh over 50 pounds and is not over 5 feet tall.

Joseph C Baginski

Not to save a hundred bucks!

Long Range Pilot

Joanna, This part of the article is REALLY bad math: Let’s say, as we saw with the 787-9 Dreamliner, adding 10 passengers improves miles per gallon per seat by eight. The A350 with its 98 mpg for 315 passengers could, therefore, be boosted by 136 mpg, giving it a total mpg per seat of 234! The correct math is something like this: The absolute best improvement would assume that The extra 173 passengers weigh nothing. 98×488/315=152mpg per seat Due to the extra weight of the 173 extra passengers and the extra fuel to carry them, probably only 85% of that… Read more »

Walter

We have tickets this coming August from EWR to Paris Orly. We will see!! We did buy the Front of the plane seats though!!