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Airbus A350 Cabin Standardization Set to Boost Financier Appeal

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Published : 2014-04-07 20:57
Updated : 2014-04-07 20:57

Airbus Group NV (AIR)’s decision to limit customization options for cabin interiors on its new A350 model is set to boost residual values when the aircraft change hands by minimizing work required to outfit them for other users.

While Airbus has given customers a broad set of options for seats, galleys and lavatories, it has dropped the carte blanche approach taken with the A380 superjumbo, Chris Emerson, senior vice president of marketing, said today in Hamburg.

Leasing companies, banks and other financial institutions prefer assets that can be moved from one customer to another without incurring huge charges for reconfiguration, Emerson said. Even when Airbus first began designing the A350 around 2010, that element played a critical role, he added.

“A good part of the A350 market is lessors, who wanted a quick way to lower their costs of configuration,” Emerson said. “We learned from other programs that you need tight control over your customization.”

The executive spoke as Airbus unveiled a new cabin-design center in Finkenwerder, outside Hamburg, where the planemaker also outfits cabins for the A380 and has final assembly lines for short-haul A320-series planes.

The two-story building with an indoor waterfall and lobby resembling a boutique hotel is designed to allow airline clients to immerse themselves in exploring the look and feel of a cabin.

Galley Layouts

With specific areas dedicated to materials, lighting and trim and finish, and mock-ups offering a full cabin experience, customers spend as many as two weeks poring over designs and playing with seat and galley layouts, Emerson said.

Choices in economy are largely confined to the catalog, while for business- and first-class seating there are options to go beyond the standard equipment. Even so, 50 percent of customers stick to options in the book, Airbus said.

The A350 so far has won more than 800 orders, including 589 for the A350-900 set to be delivered first. The plane has been in flight-tests since June and is due to win certification in time for the first handover to Qatar Airways Ltd. this year.

Two of the five test planes will be fully outfitted with passenger cabins. MSN2, the second A350 off the assembly line, was on display in Hamburg today to show off different design options for both the cabin and crew-rest areas.

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