SINGAPORE: Higher-density seating will boost A380 appeal - Amedeo

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New Airbus A380 customer Amedeo will focus its marketing efforts around simple, higher-density seating configurations to create greater demand for Airbus's ultra-large aircraft.

The lessor’s chief executive Mark Lapidus signed an $8.3 billion firm order for 20 aircraft at the Singapore air show, confirming the commitment it announced when known as Doric Lease at last year’s Paris air show. Deliveries will start in late 2016 and continue through to 2020. Engine selection has not been finalised.

Lapidus believes that Airbus’s earlier marketing strategy that concentrated on the A380’s spaciousness hampered demand. As part of the A380 marketing drive it launched last year, Airbus increased the A380’s baseline three-class configuration from 525 seats to 558 by moving all premium seating to the upper deck.

“Airbus miss-sold the A380 as a luxury airplane, then they allowed people to move things on the aircraft too much,” says Lapidus. “With the A380 Airbus started with ‘it’s a big piece of real estate do what you want to do’. That has not helped with the key factors that are great on this aircraft which are the lowest seat cost economics of anything flying today or in five years.”

Lapidus says that on the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787, customers are not offered as much cabin configuration flexibility. “There are fixed monuments where galleries are positioned and customers are not allowed to make large changes.”

Amedeo aims to unlock demand for the A380 and secure operators outside the existing customer base by concentrating on simpler, higher density configurations which will also help keep reconfiguration costs low - a vital consideration in the leasing sector.

“We have agreements with Airbus [about the cost of reconfigurations] if we are starting from the right configuration in the first place, and that broadly is all-economy downstairs and premium configurations upstairs,” he says. “That makes reconfigurations no more costly than an A330.”

Lapidus says that in such a configuration the A380 can carry over 600 passengers and points out that Emirates is planning to introduce a 619-seat layout on its aircraft next year. “That’s with 19in wide seats at 10-abreast.”

He adds that 11-abreast configurations are “on the table” with potential customers which will add up to another 35 seats on the main deck.

Amedeo is yet to secure any customers for the A380s, but hopes to sign its first leases within a year. Target customers are those “large network carriers – the world’s top 10 airlines - who do not have the A380”.