Air Serbia has presented its new slimline seats for its narrow-body Airbus fleet, which are designed to take less space, enabling the carrier to install additional rows of seating. The new Recaro BL3520 seats will increase capacity on the A319 aircraft from 128 to 144 seats and on the A320s from 155 to 174 seats, growing by more than 12% in total across the narrow-body fleet. Air Serbia will be installing 1.500 Recaro seats in total over the coming weeks. Despite the capacity increase, the seats offer passengers more space by having a leaner backrest and a higher literature pocket. Normally placed in the knee area, the pocket has been placed above the tray table, allowing for more legroom compared to the existing cabin product. Currently, the first of ten Airbuses (registered YU-API) is being refitted. Along with the new seats, the A319 and A320 cabin change includes new carpets, curtains and floor path markings to match the on board décor of the A330, which serves New York. The product on board the wide-body jet remains unchanged with eighteen lie-flat seats in business and 236 seats in economy class.
As part of the refit, the business class section of the narrow-body fleet will now feature the same seats as in economy, however, the middle seat will be kept empty for extra space. The cabin will be separated from the economy class section by a movable divider, enabling Air Serbia to adapt the number of seats according to travel demand. Up to twelve seats will now be available in business class depending on the seating configuration. The airline noted that other business class perks, such as the dine anytime menu with a selection of à la carte meals and an iPad loaded with films, TV shows and music, remain intact. Passengers in both business and economy will continue to have access to wireless Internet service for a fee and both cabins will have the ability to stream movies, music and TV shows through the Elevate Play application, which is free of charge.
Commenting on the new product, Air Serbia's CEO, Dane Kondić, said, “The Recaro seats are space-efficient, much lighter and provide more legroom for guests thanks to their modern design. The new seats are roughly 2.6 kilograms lighter than our older-generation seats, which will cut down the empty weight of our A320 and A319 fleet by more than 3.500 kilograms, reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions". He added, “The increase in seat capacity is equivalent to Air Serbia adding an extra Airbus jet to its fleet and will at the same time improve the inflight product and comfort levels. This will make Air Serbia more competitive, substantially reduce unit costs, drive revenue growth and bring our seat density up, meaning we can better meet travel demand during the summer. Many of the biggest airlines in Europe, America and Asia have installed the Recaro seat, which is a testament to its winning combination of comfortable design and functionality”.
|Existing buisness class (top) and economy class (bottom) product|
Aircraft featuring the new on board seating product are expected to progressively enter commercial service from today onwards. Speaking to EX-YU Aviation News last month, Mr Kondić announced the overhaul of the narrow-body fleet cabins, noting, "The more seats you have on an aircraft type, the more you can lower what's called your CASK (cost per ASK - available seat kilometres). In the airline industry, the critical metric is one of CASK. You have to get as low as possible a seat cost, offering as many seats as possible. That's why low cost airlines have so many seats. We are not doing that clearly. We are looking at slimmer seats, through which you can get greater density without actually changing so much the seat pitch. We have the older generation seats which are heavy as well. The new ones are not only lighter but allow you to put in more without reducing guest comfort".