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New Airbus patent paves way for Ryanair and EasyJet to cut yet more costs

In a move which may point the way towards further cost-cutting for EasyJet, Ryanair and similar low-cost airlines, French flight operator Airbus has filed a patent for "motorcycle-type saddles" to replace conventional aircraft seating.

As its accompanying diagram makes clear, future passengers will be able to "enjoy" extra leg room whilst perched bolt upright and squeezed ever closer to fellow travellers.

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Cheerfully dubbed a "seating device with reduced bulk for an aircraft", the structure comes complete with a mechanism to fold the "saddle", backrest and rotating armrests up and away to enable economy passengers to navigate to a window seat.

Because of the elevated seating position, passengers gain more vertical leg room to make up for the loss of a significant amount of horizontal space.

The Airbus patent explains the rationale for asking passengers to virtually stand on short-haul journeys of "one to a few hours'" duration. "In the aeronautical sector, some so-called 'low cost' airlines seek to increase the number of passengers transported on each flight, and more particularly on short-haul links, in order to maximise the return on the use of the aircraft.

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"To that end, and by using the same aircraft or aircraft of similar capacity, the number of seats in the cabin must be increased. In all cases, this increase in the number of seats is achieved to the detriment of the comfort of the passengers. In effect, to increase the number of cabin seats, space allotted to each passenger must be reduced."

Some commentators have wryly accused Airbus of attempting to squeeze passenger comfort to the point of airborne revolt.