2022's Current Aircraft Cabin Configuration Trends

10 mins

There is no denying that the impact the pandemic has had on the airline industry and budgets...

Mane Aerospace Team

By Mane Aerospace Team

There is no denying that the impact the pandemic has had on the airline industry and budgets, but that is not to say that cabin interior refurbishments have been forgotten about. There are a number of trends that have emerged since the pandemic. As Teddy Gil, Chief Administrative Officer of Sheffield Aerospace, explained “short term refurbishments - those originally planned pre-COVID for 2.5 years out - have either been put on hold or changed to reduce overall expenditure. Long term projects - 2.5-5 years out - however, are still on the table, with new themes and liveries being developed by marketing teams while they assess the overall impact of the pandemic and travel forecasts stabilise.”

It’s difficult for airlines to forecast a profit, especially with so many ongoing changes to travel and the ongoing pandemic, and they are reluctant to invest in any changes that involve a large cost. Instead, airlines are working to standardise their fleet, rather than rebrand completely. By looking at 2022’s trends, we can see that changes to cabin configuration are more focused on things such as upgrading carpets and seat covers, rather than anything that involves a big change or expensive outlay.

A Focus on Premium Economy Cabins

According to Richard Brown, Managing Director of Naveo Consultancy in London, there is a clear focus on improving premium economy services. This is being done by adding new rows of slimmer seats. He said “there is fierce competition to capture the high yield business class passenger, so airlines continue to innovate with seating and inflight offerings to maintain loyalty and capture market share and lucrative corporate account spending.”

It’s expected that more airlines will request cabin layout changes in the coming years, and may even reduce or eliminate some of their different service classes. For example, some airlines are choosing to remove first class, to create extra space for business class and premium economy.

Ralf Endres, Lufthansa Technik’s Head of Fulfilment for Cabin Modifications, thinks that there will be an increased demand for cabin retrofits, as travel preferences change. Due to the lead times on cabin retrofits, airlines are having to think now about their current fleets and the chances they want in place for the future.

A Bigger Interest in Hygiene

There has certainly been a greater interest in hyeigne in light of the pandemic, and this is something that has transferred to the airline industry. A lot of the changes airlines are making are in relation to galleys and bathrooms, and there is a growing demand for more hygienic cabin interiors. This is why a lot of airlines are now interested in adding electrically operated touchless components, such as taps and soap dispensers.

Passenger Comfort is Key

Shawn Raybell, Collins Aerospace Director of Sales and Marketing, explains that airlines have a range of challenges, one of “the challenges includes how to make the passenger comfortable on a single aisle aircraft for long haul travel, and how to provide the expected passenger experience.”

Andres Budo, Senior Vice President for Commercial at AVIC Cabin Systems, explains that “having had two very difficult years, travellers are looking for a passenger experience that will enable comfort and a feeling of luxury but within budgetary and sustainability parameters.”

“Privacy is definitely something that more passengers are looking for and are willing to pay for,” he goes on to say. “This was true before the pandemic, but is possibly even more so now that people want to keep their distance from passengers outside of their own travel party.”

Cabin Refurbishments on Long Haul Aircrafts

Despite pandemic setbacks, long haul travel has picked up again and this means that airlines are looking at ways to improve these aircrafts as well. Malcolm Chandler, Head of Commercial and Marketing for Vallair, said “we will see more cabin refurbishment work on long haul, widebody aircraft, as these types change operators and return to the skies.”

This isn’t just the case for premium classes, but economy class too. Chandler explains, “new cabin features being adopted by some major airline operators include slimmer sidewall panels for extra personal space at shoulder level, improved seating positions and views at windows, and larger luggage compartments capable of holding up to 60% more luggage.”

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