Airbus, Boeing bring seatmaker Zodiac in from the Hamburg cold

Aircraft seatmaker Zodiac Aerospace has been in the doghouse with airlines and airframers alike, following well-publicised delays to several aircraft programmes as the result of delays producing first and business class seating, including the American Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner — examples of which have been parked in the Victorville desert awaiting delivery.

Zodiac’s Pierre-Antony Vastra, executive vice president of communication and investor relations, confirmed to Runway Girl Network today that the seatmaker is working to get back in the good books of both Boeing and Airbus; seats are currently offered in the catalogues for both airframers, including on the Airbus A350 XWB and Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Vastra spoke plainly and on the record to RGN about the difficulties faced by the seatmaker, was open about how unacceptable the delays faced by his customers were, and spoke clearly and passionately about Zodiac’s determination to improve so that it does not cause the same issues in the future. It is to the seatmaker’s credit that it is willing to openly and honestly engage with these issues.

RGN put to Vastra that consolidation in the industry and the catalogisation of aircraft have led to a reduced supply of seats and a virtual duopsony-duopoly situation where there too few seatmakers — particularly in the premium markets for first and business class cabins — as the result of significant consolidation, mergers and acquisitions, with the result that the industry has created problems for itself. Vastra disagreed with this idea, suggesting that this wasn’t the source of the issues.

Zodiac’s backlog is believed to sit in the thousands of aircraft seats, although it is uncertain how many of these are the first and business class seating products that led to such issues with the American Airlines and other deliveries.

Vastra also acknowledged the reality that seatmakers are in a “B2B2B2C” situation — dealing with everyone from airframers, airlines, and the ultimate customers, passengers.