Whoa: French Bee’s New 480-Seat Airbus A350-1000

French Bee just took delivery of its first A350-1000, which has 480 seats. It is the most efficient long haul aircraft. I am not sure if this is an incredible feat, or just sounds awful.

What is the name of the bee?

French Bee is an ultra low cost carrier. Initially the airline had a fleet of four A350-900s, but now they are taking delivery of two A350-1000s.

French Bee flies from Paris Orly to San Francisco and continues to serve Tahiti. The airline is about to launch flights to Newark and Los Angeles.

The French Bee has a new plane.

French Bee has operated a fleet of four A350-900s with a total of 411 seats. The densest A350-900s out there include 35 premium economy seats and 368 economy seats.

The two A350-1000s the airline is taking delivery of have a total of 480 seats. 40 premium economy seats and 440 economy seats are included. The airline is able to cram so many seats on the plane because there are 10 seats per row in economy.

The French Bee A350 economy.

The new configuration isn't disproportionately dense compared to the A350-900. It makes sense that there are more seats. I think it is remarkable that we are talking about so many seats.

This is compared to other airlines operating the A350-1000.

The French Bee A350 is a premium economy.

French Bee's A350-1000s are the lowest cost long haul aircraft in terms of per seat operating costs. The A350 is incredibly fuel efficient to begin with, and then no airline has installed as many seats on a twin-engine long haul aircraft as All Nippon Airways does.

Virgin Atlantic used to operate a jumbo jet in a leisure configuration with just 14 business class seats, and 455 total seats. The A350-1000's economics are better than the 747-400's.

Does a plane make sense?

I am fascinated by French Bee's A350-1000 and have a few conflicting thoughts. The long haul, low cost airline business model simply doesn't work. Could this be any different?

French Bee has a configuration that is more efficient and less expensive than what we have seen from other long haul airlines.
The efficiency is only worth it if the airline can consistently fill those seats.
The question is how often French Bee can sell all 480 seats, but I don't think it works well in the winter due to lack of school breaks.
While many passengers are willing to sacrifice comfort to save money, are they willing to do that on a flight like the one from Paris to Tahiti, which takes 24 hours?
It would make sense for the airline to offer different types of seating products so that they can get more revenue per passenger, and that would make a whole new crowd interested in flying the airline.

This plane is going to be very interesting to watch. The plane could be a cash cow if the airline can fill all 480 seats consistently. The economics will be much harder if these planes are mostly empty.

The French Bee A350 economy.

French Bee has just taken delivery of its first A350-1000, which should be the most efficient long haul aircraft in terms of per seat operating costs. One has to wonder if French Bee will be able to achieve load factors that make this worthwhile. The inflight experience is nothing like boarding a non-double decker with 479 other passengers.

What do you think of French Bee's A350-1000?