Airbus SAS broadened the choice of business-class seats it offers in a catalog to customers of the A350 wide-body jet, as it seeks to avoid the high degree of customization that hobbled output of the larger A380 plane.
Customers of the A350 can now pick between six designs for the seat available through the Airbus catalog, rather than just one, said Bob Lange, vice president of marketing at Airbus. Alternatively, airlines can ignore the offer altogether and pick their own design, a practice known as buyer-furnished-equipment that is more complex because each seat is a new design.
“It was always our intention to offer a comprehensive catalog, but we wanted to do that in conjunction with launch customers of the aircraft so that the sets offered are relevant to the market,” said Lange, who spoke in a telephone interview from Hamburg, where he attended a conference about aircraft interiors.
Airbus gave airlines a greater degree of design freedom on the A380, with carriers fitting enclosed first-class cabins, showers and on-flight duty free zones to the double-decker aircraft. Choosing seat models in the A350 catalog will allow customers to select the seat as many as 20 months closer to delivery than if they had opted for an original design.
The planemaker still offers three models for economy class in its catalog, with no option for going outside of that. For business class, Airbus is now adding seat models from both Jamco America, EADS-Sogerma, and Sicma, a unit of Zodiac Aerospace.
Jamco America, based in Everett, Washington, and a unit of Japan’s Jamco Corp. becomes an Airbus contracted supplier, meaning that in addition to having a seat in the catalog, it may propose buyer-furnished-equipment seats to airlines wishing to design their own.
Sogerma, already a contracted supplier, is adding two models to the catalog, while Sicma will also become an Airbus contracted supplier for the plane, with two different seats, being offered in the catalog, both of which transform into a full-flat bad.
Airbus has so far won 555 orders from 34 customers for its A350, a long-range, wide-body plane that seeks to challenge Boeing Co.’s 787 and 777 models. The first variant of the A350, the -900, is scheduled to begin commercial service in mid 2014, six months later than promised earlier.