Thompson Aero Seating has revealed that it is seeing a positive increase in demand for its widebody seating products. This demand is a strong sign of the resurgence of widebody demand following the pandemic. Many airlines want to have their widebody fleets equipped with premium seats by 2024.

Return of the widebodies

Inquiries for Thompson’s single-aisle configuration products have remained consistent over the past year and have recently seen a rise in demand as airlines once again are adding aircraft to their fleets. The VantageSOLO and the younger VantageDuo have been the recent fan favorites of customers in the narrowbody market.

Vantage Solo

VantageSOLO is a high-end business class product designed for the narrowbody market. Photo: Factorydesign

In recent weeks, however, Thompson has received many inquiries to have larger widebody aircraft upgraded. The Boeing 787 and the Airbus A330 are the two most common widebody aircraft that will be upgraded.

787-8 Dreamliner over mountains

The Boeing 787 will be one of many aircraft fitted with the new VantageXL seats. Photo: Boeing

The VantageXL is the popular choice for these upgrades. The XL was refreshed earlier this year, and is designed to offer world-class living space. It features a flat horizontal bed and 100% direct aisle access. Thompson also provides the XL with a fully enclosed suite option and an enhanced ‘Business Plus’ front row option. Thompson Aero Seating has informed Simple Flying that the first aircraft fitted with the refurbished VantageXL will be delivered in early 2023.

Next generation vantage XL

The next-generation VantageXL builds on the popular model for Thompson. Photo: Thompson Aero

The Vice President of Commercial Operations for Thompson Aero Seating Andy Morris, stated,

“It is really positive that we are seeing such strong recovery and renewed interest in wide-body aircraft. We have some exciting projects already underway and will be looking to increase our capacity based upon the current and forecasted demand for our products.”

Long installation period

The company’s OEM line-fit programs range between 24 and 30 months from start to finish. Airlines looking to have new aircraft fitted and ready to fly in 2024 they will need to begin the process as soon as possible. Aircraft that are already configured and need to be retrofitted with the new seats will take between 12 and 24 months to complete.

An Airbus A330-300P2F in flight

The installation process on new widebodies will be longer than widebodies that are already configured. Photo: Airbus

2024 recovery

In Doha, Qatar, the IATA’s Global Aviation Industry World Financial Symposium is currently being held. During this conference, the IATA is focusing on pandemic recovery. The airline industry has seen record numbers of travel demand this summer. Despite the losses incurred during the pandemic, many airlines have quickly recovered and look to be profitable by late next year, with the industry as a whole expected to be profitable by the end of 2024. It is also anticipated that traffic levels will return to pre-pandemic levels by 2024.

Widebodies, in particular, have made a comeback amid the recent growth as the limited air travel that endured through the pandemic was primarily comprised of narrowbody aircraft operating domestic routes. With borders reopened, widebodies have returned to the international skies once more.

This year many manufacturers resumed aircraft deliveries to customers as the supply chain has been mostly unclogged. The increase in aircraft deliveries has provided Thompson Aero Seating the opportunity to continue fitting aircraft with its world-class seats. Airlines looking to have these aircraft fully fitted by 2024 to meet the growing demand will need to get their projects to Thompson Aero fast to secure a spot in the inevitable queue that comes with demand.

What do you think of this increased demand for luxury seating on widebody aircraft? Let us know in the comments below.


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