European airlines race to revamp cabins

As Air France completes the installation of new seats across its domestic fleet, German rival Lufthansa has announced a huge cabin refurbishment for its short and medium haul aircraft.

Air France confirmed December 15 that all of the aircraft flying on domestic routes would be equipped with the lighter short haul seats by December 24, reducing fuel consumption by 1,700 tons per year.

Customers are pleased with the new cabins, launched in March 2010, said the French flag-carrier, with satisfaction levels on the rise and traffic up 60 percent on European point-to-point routes.

On the same day, Lufthansa announced a massive cabin refurbishment of its own fleet, promising to install some 32,000 new seats on over 180 aircraft within 12 months.

Made by Recaro, the company which also produced the new Air France seats, its new design is 30 percent lighter but also more compact, allowing up to two extra rows to be installed on each aircraft - increasing Lufthansa's capacity by around 2,000 additional seats.

On some aircraft, overhead bins have also been expanded to allow for easier storage of hand luggage, said the German flag-carrier.

Along with the new cabin layouts, changes have been made to in-flight services on domestic and European routes, with new snacks and hot meals for cross-border routes of over two hours - renowned chef Heiko Antoniewicz will create the first dishes.