Why doesn’t Iberia’s new $317 million long-haul Airbus A350 have proper business class seats?

Spain’s flag carrier Iberia flies brand new long-haul planes worth around $317 million each at face value without proper business class seats, and it has passengers and aviation experts who scratch their heads wondering why not?

After all, the Airbus A350 was designed to operate Iberia’s longest flights, and a true business class cabin with stretched seats is usually one of the biggest earners for an airline.

Simply put, you need to have a lot more Economy seats, taking up a lot of space to generate the same kind of revenue as just one Business Class seat, so that seems like a really bizarre omission on Iberia’s part.

It turns out, however, that Iberia would like to have business class seats on its last two A350s, but the global supply chain crisis has blocked the delivery of key components for the business class seats that Iberia has ordered.

Iberia had a tough decision to make – either try to delay delivery of the entire plane from the manufacturers, but that carries the risk of being slapped with a late acceptance penalty from Airbus, or take the plane but without a business class cabin.

The Madrid-based airline has opted for the second option and has so far taken delivery of two Airbus A350-900s with missing business class cabins rather than incur a penalty from Airbus. But they can’t just stay in the field, earning money while increasing maintenance costs.

Thus, like the Tweeter @aviosAdventurer recently discovered, Iberia decided to put the plane into action, but mainly on short-haul routes around Europe. Where the elongated seats should have been, there were only a few strategically placed standard economy seats (which had to be blocked off for weight and balance purposes).

Luckily, European airlines don’t normally use elongated seats on intra-European flights, so from a passenger experience perspective, there shouldn’t be any big shocks. In fact, Iberia is booking business class passengers in its Premium Economy, which could even be considered an upgrade to a standard intra-European business class seat.

One of the two aircraft (EC-NXD) has mainly operated flights lasting two to four hours, although this aircraft has recently been scheduled to operate a long-haul service from Madrid to Caracas.

It might suggest, however, that Iberia really needs to start using these planes for what they were originally designed for.

Unfortunately, the supply chain issues are unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. In fact, many multinationals are gearing up for supply chain disruptions to become the norm.

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Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the Middle East’s most important airline and flew throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centered stories. Always on the cutting edge, Matt’s knowledge, analysis and news coverage are often used by some of the biggest names in journalism.

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