American Airlines has become the first retrofit customer for Airbus’ new Airspace XL luggage bins, having contracted Services by Airbus to provide cabin upgrades for 202 A321s the Dallas area-based carrier has in service.
The American A321 cabin-upgrade deal represents Airbus' largest-ever retrofit contract.
According to Airbus, the new Airspace XL overhead luggage bins will provide 40 percent more storage volume for passengers' carry-on bags than the bins they will replace.
The increase in bag-storage volume will reduce bin crowding and the need to check bags at the gate, speeding and improving the boarding experience both for passengers and cabin crew members, the manufacturer says.
“This is exactly the type of added-value that our services can bring to airlines,” says Laurent Martinez, head of Services by Airbus. “This contract is a major step for Airbus into the US services market, and we are grateful to American Airlines for their trust in our expertise.”
The luggage-bin upgrades will form part of a project which will standardize all but 17 of American Airlines’ A321s with a common 190-seat interior layout, providing passengers with a consistent travel experience.
However, the 17 A321s which American operates on its premium transcontinental service will continue, as now, to have 102 seats: 10 in Flagship First Class, 10 in Flagship Business Class, 36 in the Main Cabin Extra section and 36 seats in the Economy cabin.
American Airlines will also equip the 100 A321neos it has on order with the Airspace XL overhead bins, according to Airbus. The carrier is due to start taking delivery of these aircraft in 2019.
Airbus’ Global Services Forecast projects that over the next 20 years the commercial-aircraft upgrade services market will be worth $180 billion.
In addition to being driven by systems upgrades, the upgrade market will be driven in part by strong competition between airlines that value passenger-experience offerings such as comfort and connectivity as service differentiators, according to Airbus.
The manufacturer estimates that 14 percent of the demand for upgrade services market will come from North America.