New 'saddle' seat designed for budget flyers

The design, named the "SkyRider", allows just 23 inches of legroom, which is about seven inches less than the average seat's space of 30 inches, the Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday.

The seat, designed by Italian firm Aviointeriors Group, is to be unveiled this week at an aircraft expo in California. The makers say the seat would allow budget airlines to cram more passengers into their tight cabins. Shaped similar to a horse saddle, passengers sit at an angle, with their weight taken on by their legs.

The makers claim the design does not affect passenger comfort, but they say it would only be suitable for flights of up to three hours.  "We feel extremely confident that this concept will ... have great appeal to airlines for economic purposes," Dominique Menoud, the company's director general, told USA Today.

"For flights anywhere from one to possibly even up to three hours ... this would be comfortable seating."  The company added that the seat, which is in its final stage of testing, had been "designed and engineered to offer the possibility to even further reduce ticket prices while still maintaining sound profitability".

Ryanair, an Irish low-cost carrier, has previously said it would let passengers stand during flights if the Irish Aviation Authority granted permission.  In July, Ryanair announced plans to operate flights where passengers stand during the journey at a cost of just five pounds per ticket.

Michael O'Leary, the budget airline's controversial chief executive, suggested the Irish airline may soon carry a number of "vertical seats". But the idea has already been dismissed by safety officials.

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