British Airways will cut the first-class cabin from its Airbus A350-1000 fleet, although the type will feature a similar level of accommodation as the carrier’s higher-density Boeing 747-400s.
Chief executive Alex Cruz says the -1000 will feature a new business-class seat – which BA markets under the ‘Club World’ brand – when the initial aircraft arrives in July next year.
The A350-1000 will be fitted with 331 seats but the cabin layout will be cut to three classes as opposed to the four on the 747-400s.
Cruz says the twinjet is “likely to operate” on the same routes as 747s with the “mid-J” layout, referring to the higher-density 747s with fewer premium seats.
BA lists its high-density 747-400 cabin as having 345 seats including 14 in first class, 52 in business-class, 36 in premium economy and 243 in economy.
Cruz says the carrier will increase “a little bit” the number of business-class seats, with a larger increase in premium-economy seating, and a “marginal climb-down” in the economy-class cabin, in comparison with the 747 layout.
Four A350-1000s will be fitted with this configuration next year, he says.
Two four-class Boeing 777s will also be completely refurbished with the new business-class seat and an upgraded first-class cabin.
First-class seating on the aircraft will be cut from 14 to eight, while the overall business-class and premium-economy accommodation will largely stay the same. But an increase in economy-class capacity, says Cruz, will mean the type will have 4% more seats than before.
Cruz says the upgrade is “not going to be a quick roll-out”, with more than 100 long-haul jets involved. The bulk will be refitted in 2020-21 and the last will be completed in 2023.