According to market research firm Technavio, the aircraft seating market is expected to grow by $13 billion between 2022 and 2026. However, Technavio says the market will decline at a compound growth rate (CAGR) of 18.74% over the same period. So Technavio’s research shows that the seating market is growing, but that growth will slow down over the next four years.
OEMs need lots of slots for their backlog
There are many research reports on an endless variety of markets, and virtually none of them agree with each other. Even on the primary metric of market size, there are very significant differences. For example, estimates of the annual value of the aircraft seat market range from $4.1 billion to $16 billion. According to their latest reports, Airbus has about 7,000 aircraft on order and Boeing just over 5,000, so we can see that 12,000 aircraft will eventually need seats from these two OEMs. 200 economy seats in an Airbus A321neo or a Boeing B737 MAX 8 will likely cost around $4000 to $800,000 for the aircraft, so regardless of the exact size of the market, it’s a huge market. Especially for business and first class seats, where the cost per seat is in the six figures.
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KLM has selected the Recaro SL3710 for its new Airbus A320 economy cabin. Photo: Recaro
There are approximately 25 aircraft seat manufacturers worldwide in a region where innovation and price competitiveness are of paramount importance. The four main players are Collins Aerospace, Recaro, Safran and Thompson Aero Seating. In June, the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) was held in Hamburg, Germany, showcasing the latest seating designs and trends. Recaro, well-known in the automotive industry, introduced its CL6720 Business Class and CL3810 Economy Class seats, which feature lightweight construction methods and materials. Additionally, at AIX, Recaro announced that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM), Transavia France and Netherlands-based Transavia Airlines will select BL 3710 business class seats and SL 3710 for their 100 new Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft . was.
Both seats are loaded with features including a do-it-yourself tool holder and a high-power USB-C power outlet integrated into the seatback to keep passengers connected throughout the flight. The SL3710 seat features a tapered backrest that increases passenger space and maximizes comfort, while the BL3710’s ergonomic design supports short and medium-haul flights. The KLM aircraft will be configured in a hybrid layout with a BL3710 front seat, while the Transavia Airlines and Transavia France aircraft will have the SL3710 layout. The BL3710 has been selected by China’s Tibet Airways for the new economy section of the Airbus A319neo, with the CL4701 for business class seats.
JetBlue is an early adopter of late-flat suites on long, narrow flights. Photo: JetBlue
Narrow premium seats are on the rise
In premium cabins, Thompson Aero seats are a familiar sight. At AIX, Thompson introduced its next-generation VanatgeXL, featuring a revised design, a fully flat horizontal bed and straight aisle access. The VantageXL has a minimum seat width of 23 inches (58.4 cm), an extended side-aisle privacy wing and a multi-function, bi-folding table with a mount for personal electronic devices. The new seat accommodates larger monitors up to 50cm in diameter, a multi-position cocktail table and a see-through seat divider that can be lowered for passengers traveling together. The advent of long-haul flights on narrow bodies such as the A321LR/XLR has led to the use of herringbone flat-flat seats. JetBlue is one of those early adopters on its transatlantic flights from New York and Boston to London.
The use of lighter materials, thinner seat backs, and durable synthetic leathers such as e-leather are a rapidly growing trend in aircraft seating. With all these planes on the backlog, there is plenty of room for these new trends to emerge over the next few years.
How much does a seat influence your airline choice?