Italian manufacturer Geven is offering airlines its Piuma Sofa concept, which could allow them to cash in on empty economy-class seats by turning rows into beds and selling them to passengers who wish to lie down.

AirAsia X has already signed a letter of intent covering equipment for 50 Airbus A330s.

Piuma Sofa enables rows of seats to be rapidly converted by lifting the armrests, detaching the headrests and attaching them to the seat base to widen the space and create a flat area suitable for sleeping on.

Trevor Lambert – who is working with Geven on the concept – says the attraction for airlines is that they can earn ancillary revenues by selling the Piuma Sofa rows to passengers as a buy-on-board option.

This enables them to make money from what would otherwise have been empty space. "You could sell 20 beds on a flight that's half empty and, assuming you charge £200 [$290] for each one, that is £4,000 of extra revenue per flight," says Lambert.

Geven will have a prototype of the concept available in July and is targeting first deliveries in May 2016. The company's sales and marketing director Mario Schisa says he is "confident" that AirAsia will "be our launch customer", but there has been "a lot of interest" from other airlines during the Aircraft Interiors show.

Piuma Sofa takes its inspiration from Air New Zealand's Skycouch but, says Lambert, its advantage is that there is no licence fee for other airlines to pay and "it doesn't add any extra bulk to the critical area around the seat" because no underseat storage is required for the reconfiguration.

Source: Flight Daily News