European planemaker Airbus has announced plans to fit wider aisle seats on its A320 aircraft to accommodate larger passengers. However, the move will reduce the width of seats for slimmer travellers. The idea is to add an extra two inches to the aisle seats and reduce to width of the window and middle seat by an inch.
Airbus said that it was reacting to airlines who say that the issue of obese passengers is becoming a real problem. They claim that the number one complaint made by customers is that larger passengers are invading their seat space.
Low budget carrier Ryanair has already said that it is considering levying a tax on larger passengers and a survey conducted recently found that around half of British travellers would be happy to see overweight customers charged more. It is likely that airlines operating the reconfigured A320s will charge extra for the wider seats.
Airbus estimates that over a period of 15 years extra charges could generate as much as £2 million which would go towards paying for the extra fuel needed to carry obese passengers. With an estimated 30 per cent of the population suffering from obesity it is likely that the first of the new planes will go to an American carrier.
Some US airlines already ask that overweight passengers purchase an additional seat at a discounted price. Air Travel Advisory Bureau spokesman, Sean Curtis-Ward said he supported the plans, but only if those travelling in the smaller seats saw the price of their tickets reduced.