Iberia Express, the hybrid intra-European arm of Iberia, announced orders for four densely configured A321neos, to complement its fleet of 22 A320 family aircraft. The new frames will feature 10 additional seats than its current A321s, increasing seating configuration to 232 seats as reported by FlightGlobal.
The new aircraft will feature two types of seats to cater to different flyers. Seats located between rows one to 11 will incorporate Collins Aerospace Pinnacle seats, also used by British Airways. These seats can be used as business class, adjusting the size of the cabin based on demand.
Seats further back will feature Recaro SL3510 seats, available across the Iberia Express fleet and widely used by low-cost carriers around the world including Wizz Air, EasyJet and IAG’s own low-cost carrier Vueling. Mainline Iberia also features the same dual configuration on its A320 family aircraft, with retrofits having taken place over the last couple of years.
While Pinnacle seats are better padded and more athletically pleasing providing a nicer look in the front of the cabin. Recaro SL3510 seats have proved to be very successful for airlines wishing to optimize cabin configurations while minimizing disruptions in passenger comfort as they have thinner padding and minimal magazine pockets in the seat in front, creating slightly additional room for leg space.
Although the difference might seem minimal, in today’s densified short-haul market, any difference can positively improve passenger comfort.
Despite not having been specified, Iberia Express’ A321neos are likely to feature Airbus’ “Cabin-flex” layout, which features a pair of over-wing emergency exits, replacing the second set of doors found in A321ceos. Additionally, rear toilets are embedded into the back of the gallery, providing room for two additional rows of seats. This layout allows airlines to increase cabin density and carry up to 240 seats.
With these new additions, Iberia Express will operate a fleet of 26 A320 family aircraft, currently made up by 18 A320-200s and four A321s transferred from Iberia. The airline was created in 2012 as a way to lower operational costs for Iberia through the hiring of pilots and cabin crew under new labor contracts. The airline flies to 36 Spanish and European destinations from Madrid Barajas, including Dusseldorf, Birmingham and Copenhagen.