'High density' airliner to set record with 800 passengers

An Air France Airbus A 380 lands at Orly airport in Paris. AFP

The retail adage “stack ‘em high and pack ‘em tight” is to be introduced to airlines after plans were announced on Wednesday for economy-only flights carrying a record-breaking 800 passengers in Airbus A380s.

The French company Air Austral said it placed orders for two “high density” double-decker A380s with a capacity for 840 seats.

When full, the flights between Paris and the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean, where the company is based, will easily involve the most passengers ever to fly in a single aeroplane.

Air Austral plans to start operating the flights from 2014.

The A380 began commercial flights in 2007 carrying around 500 people. The planes included space-consuming business and first class seating areas complete with showers and bars. But it was safety tested for evacuating more than 800 people before it entered service. With a crew of 20 included, it has been approved to carry up to 873 people.

Air Austral’s plans for no-frills A380s flights will make it the easyJet or Ryanair of super-jumbo travel.

 “We are convinced that airplanes with good-priced tickets will help explode traffic figures,” its founder and president Gerard Etheve told Reuters. It said the giant people carrier was aimed at tapping growth in China and India.

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