Next year, airlines will begin flying the Airbus A380, the biggest commercial passenger plane in the world. The plane will be able to carry at least 555 passengers on long haul international flights around 15,000 kilometers. Airbus showed off the new plane at the Paris Air Show. The company says the A380, which will be delivered to the first airline next year, will meet a growing demand for international travelers flying from Asia, Europe and the Middle East to destinations around the globe.
Thomas Burger is a Product Marketing Manager for the Airbus A380. "It will offer passengers the highest comfort but for the lowest cost. So really, we have an increase in floor area of about 50 percent but only 35 percent more seats. So airlines are free to offer features to the passengers and at the same time get a big economic benefit and transfer that if they wish to the passengers in lower ticket prices."
Not to be outdone by Airbus, Boeing showcased two new planes it says will greatly stimulate international air travel. The 300-seat 777 Worldliner and the 223-seat 787 Dreamliner are designed to offer service between virtually any two cities in the world.
Randy Tinseth, Director of Boeing's Product and Services, says the design of the new 787 meets many objectives. “One is to create a new business model for airlines so they can have higher revenue and lower cost and be more profitable. Long-term though, you want to ensure you have a product that is comfortable and accepted by passengers. So we are looking at a new sensation for passengers, wider seats, wider aisles, a more comfortable cabin and larger windows.
Boeing is adding more space on its 787 for carry-on luggage, as well as with enhanced entertainment features and a cabin that doesn’t feel so small.
"When you walk in the Dreamliner it is open, it's bright and it has an ambiance that is different from any other airplane," adds Mr. Tinseth.
Airbus is also emphasizing new levels of passenger comfort on international flights, including large social areas where passengers can stretch and get something to drink.
Mr. Burger made his pitch for the Airbus. "Because we have more space inside the cabin we can offer the airlines the possibility to innovate inside the cabin which is key for product differentiation. The are competing with other airlines and these features really allow them to attract passengers to them."
As Boeing and Airbus keep up their fiercely competitive battle for leadership of global aircraft manufacturing, both companies believe their new planes will revolutionize international air travel and bring back something that's been missing: the joy of flying.