Aircraft Seating Market Set For $13bn Growth

According to market research firm Technavio, the aircraft seating market is expected to grow by $13 billion between 2022 to 2026. However, Technavio says the market will decelerate at a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 18.74% in the same period. So Technavio’s research reports that the seat market is growing, but that growth will slow down over the next four years.

OEMs need a lot of seats for their backlogs

Numerous research reports are available on an endless array 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 around 7,000 aircraft in its backlog, and Boeing has just over 5,000, so we can see that 12,000 aircraft will need seats from those two OEMs at some stage. The 200 economy seats on an Airbus A321neo or Boeing B737 MAX 8 probably cost around $4000 each or $800,000 for the aircraft, so whatever the exact market size is, it’s a big market. Particularly for business and first class seats, where the costs per seat are in the six figures.


KLM has selected the Recaro SL3710 for its new Airbus A320 economy cabin. Photo: Recaro

Globally, there are around 25 manufacturers of aircraft seats in a sector where innovation and price competitiveness are paramount. The four major players are Collins Aerospace, Recaro, Safran and Thompson Aero Seating. In June, the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) was held in Hamburg, Germany, where the latest seat design and trends were unveiled. Recaro, well known in the car industry, presented its CL6720 business class and CL3810 economy class seats, featuring lightweight design methods and materials. Also, at AIX, Recaro announced that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM), Transavia France and Netherlands-based Transavia Airlines had selected BL3710 business class seats and SL3710 for their 100 new Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft.

Both seats are customized with features, including a bring-your-own-device holder and a high-power USB-C outlet built into the backrest, keeping passengers connected throughout their flight. The SL3710 seat features a slim backrest, which enhances 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 the BL3710 seats up in the front, while the Transavia Airlines and Transavia France aircraft will have an all SL3710 layout. The BL3710 has also been selected by China’s Tibet Airways for its new Airbus A319neos economy section, with the CL4701 for business class seating.

JetBlue is an early adopter of the lie-flat suites on longer narrowbody flights. Photo: JetBlue

Narrowbody premium seats are on the rise

In premium cabins, seats from Thompson Aero are a familiar sight. At AIX, Thompson launched its next-generation VanatgeXL, which features a new design, a fully flat horizontal bed and direct 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-fold table with a personal electronic device holder. The new seat can accommodate larger monitors up to 20 inches (50 cm), a multi-position cocktail table and a translucent seat divider that can be lowered for passengers traveling together. The arrival of long-haul flying on narrowbodies, such as the A321LR/XLR, has spawned the use of lie-flat seats in the herringbone layout. JetBlue is an early adopter of these on its transatlantic flights from New York and Boston to London.

The use of more lightweight materials, thinner seatbacks and sustainable synthetic leather, such as E-Leather, are all fast-growing trends in aircraft seating. With all those aircraft in the backlog, there is plenty of scope for those new trends to emerge in the next few years.

How much does the seat affect your airline choice?

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