The Flying 840 Seat Sardine Can

Something to think about.

Indian Ocean airline Air Austral dropped its order for two A380 planes. Air Austral originally aimed to configure the planes with a staggering 840 seats, the highest capacity seat layout in the history of civil aviation.

Day Two Of The 51st International Paris Air Show

The aircraft, widely labeled as “flying sardine cans,” were removed from Airbus’s order backlog in a monthly update published Monday, confirming a cancellation that had seemed likely after Air Austral repeatedly delayed their delivery.

Based on the island of La Reunion, Air Austral ordered the double-decker A380s in 2009, saying they’d be used for single-class budget flights on the “heavy-traffic route” to Paris. It didn’t reveal an exact seating plan — or specify how many galleys and bathrooms the planes would need for their mammoth passenger load.

While the A380 was certificated for a maximum 853 people based on evacuation trials, most airlines operate the model with 450 to 550 seats in three or four classes, with Dubai-based Emirates, the biggest operator, introducing a two-class 615-seat version.

Even with the density that had been planned by Air Austral, the A380 would still have wider seats and wider aisles in economy class than Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner and the planned 777X, Airbus has said.

Airbus’s website also showed new orders for two A380 superjumbos, though the identity of the operator wasn’t revealed.



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