Airline passengers will almost certainly be seated five-across in the centre aisle of future aircraft, Emirates Airline president Tim Clark said at the Dubai Airshow.
Confirming the Dubai-based airline was seriously considering 11-seat aisles, Clark said there were numerous concerns to overcome, particularly in convincing customers stuck in the middle seats, but it was not “a bad thing”.
“Can we fit 11 [seats] in [one aisle]? Yes … There's all sorts of smokes and mirrors, but it'll probably come,” he said.
“You would then have 3-5-3 across. The middle seat of the five-seat option has always been one of those difficult ones for people to have … so we're trying to figure out if we did the 3-5-3 across how we do all that we'll see, but … it's not such a bad thing.”
Emirates was the first airline in the world to use 10-across layout on the B777 and Clark's comments suggest it could go one further.
“We've looked at the 11-abreast, we continue to look at the 11-abreast,” he said.
“But the 11-abreast would have to match what we're doing today, so the seat width should be 19 inches; if we do 11-abreast we do not go under 19-inches.”
European aircraft maker Airbus has been pushing for 18-inch seats to become the industry standard, increasing the 17-inch standard set in the 1950s.
Every Airbus aircraft is fitted with the wider seat, while US manufacturer Boeing continues to use the narrower option.
Airbus director of passenger comfort Kevin Keniston said on Saturday the narrower seats made his US rival's long-haul economy planes “substandard”.
“We believe the future of comfort in long haul is actually in jeopardy here,” Keniston said.
“More worryingly, we see that standard being maintained for future Boeing products and basically what we are saying now is that is substandard comfort for economy passengers.
“some of those aircraft are going to be delivered in the 2020s. If those aircraft are delivered with a substandard comfort you potentially are in a situation where in 2040 and beyond we will still be flying in a 17-inch standard.”