Air France has introduced a new economy class seat which it claims will save 1,700 tonnes of fuel a year -- the equivalent of 650 flights from Paris to Marseilles.

(Relaxnews) -

Air France has introduced a new economy class seat which it claims will save 1,700 tonnes of fuel a year - the equivalent of 650 flights from Paris to Marseilles.

The new design, being introduced into the airline's short-haul cabins from January 30, offers passengers 5 to 7.5 cm more leg room and is 40 percent lighter than previous seats used on the airline's fleet of Airbus A319s, A320s and A321s. The reduction in weight is expected to reduce emissions by 5,200 tonnes of CO2 per year, as each aircraft will weigh approximately 750kg less.

The airline has also opted to remove the mechanical seat recline function normally found in aircraft seats in favour of a natural recline, to reduce the annoyance to passengers behind. The chairs will recline by up to 15° under pressure. Air France also expects to be able to fit more seats onto its planes; an extra six passengers will be able to travel on board the A320 and A321.

According to industry commentators, other manufacturers may soon follow Air France's lead, with the older bulky reclining chair being retired from use.

"The general trend, as we saw at the Aircraft Interiors Expo, is a movement towards thinner seats that recline 'Lay-Z-Boy' style," said Matthew Daimler, founder of airline seat guide SeatGuru.com. "This means the seat bottom slides forwards as the seat back reclines, allowing the passenger to recline, while not impeding the knee room for the passenger behind. The thinner seats mean lighter loads for the aircraft and therefore less fuel consumption."

Cabin comfort is a key differentiator in the highly competitive airline marketplace. In a 2009 survey by airline comfort review site Seatguru.com, 42 percent of flyers said they would pay up to 10% over ticket cost to get five additional inches of legroom.

Website: http://www.airfrance.com
Website: http://www.seatguru.com

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