British Airways is to increase the seating density on its London Gatwick-based Boeing 777s, as well as its Airbus short-haul fleet, in order to cut unit costs on its aircraft.

The airline is to introduce 10-abreast seating on 25 777s, increasing the economy-class cabin from 216 to 252 seats.

It will trim the business-class cabin from 40 to 32 seats but double the premium-economy cabin to 48 seats.

BA chief financial officer Steve Gunning, detailing the change during an IAG investors presentation, said the premium-economy cabin was “particularly profitable” in the Gatwick market.

He says the new 777 configuration – increasing its accommodation from 280 to 332 seats – will be introduced in early 2018, and will provide more economical unit seat costs compared with those on Norwegian’s Boeing 787s, which the Scandinavian carrier uses at Gatwick.

Gunning says that, in the current environment of weak UK currency, being “disciplined on capital” is “absolutely key”. IAG has already disclosed that it is tightening its capital expenditure targets over the next few years.

BA is to slash its Airbus A319 fleet, almost halving it from 44 to 26 aircraft by 2021.

Gunning says the A319 has a “unit-cost disadvantage” and that using the larger A320s and A321s is more beneficial.

But BA also plans to cut unit costs on these types by raising the London Heathrow-based A320 seating from 168 to 180, for winter 2017, and that of the A321 from 205 to 218 in time for summer 2018.

Source: Cirium Dashboard