A couple are sleeping in the Rendez-vous suites by Stelia

Stelia unveils integrated Rendez-vous staggered super-business seat

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After débuting its new premium staggered seat Rendez-Vous in the secret backroom areas of the Aircraft Interiors Expo this June, Airbus’ subsidiary seatmaker Stelia is breaking cover with a new updated set of mockup renderings — and an exclusive interview with vice president of global sales and marketing Alain Bordeau.

At AIX, Bordeau tells Runway Girl Network, Stelia received “very strong positive reaction that led during the summer to advanced discussions, mainly in Asia, but not only.”

Stelia, which remains the seating brand of Airbus Atlantic, highlights that with the work it has done to certify the seats on the A350 to PDR (preliminary design review) level, its leadtime is down to just twenty months from signing, taking into account the current range of disruptions to the industry’s supply chains. 

The new renderings and updated look and feel remains residential in a kind of neo-modernist way, with the three main visible critical improvements over previous generations being the full wraparound fabric on the shell, the seatback fully integrated into the structure, and the seating pan extending outwards in a way that adds width at the thighs in an impressive way.

Two Rendez-Vous suites in grey with wood and gold accents. Image provided by SteliaRendez-Vous has been designed as a “honeymoon” product, where in the centre section the seats alternate between a pair immediately next to each other with each seat on the far side of the side-table from the aisle, and individual seats immediately next to the aisle. 

A man and a woman are seated side by side in two Stelia Rendez-Vous suites, with the divider down, allowing them to talk

This is a smart move, especially given the increasing importance of the premium leisure traveller — for whom this kind of “cuddle class” is a real draw — to the future of business class. Indeed, Bordeau says, Rendez-Vous is designed to enable “a divider in the down position flush to the cushion, with soft material on the top of the divider. So you really have the experience of the double bed.”

A man and a woman sleeping side by side in Stelia Rendez-Vous suites. She is touching his arm, showing that the divider between these suites goes flush

Stelia is aiming Rendez-Vous towards the higher end of business class positioning, and is working on a front row business-plus/first-minus product where additional space and amenities can be given over thanks to the additional space resulting from the need not to stagger to a seat in front, and with the opportunity to design a bespoke front row monument.

Rotation

In terms of size, Bordeau explains that Stelia has predeveloped the product for the Airbus A350 airframe, where it plans to offer a standard pitch range of 44-46”, although it is studying a longer option to 49” for a customer that Bordeau described as “an Asian airline”. At the standard pitch range, the seat converts to a bed of 77” (6’5”, or 196cm), while at the 49” pitch it’s 80” (6’8”, or 203cm).

A key question, especially when it comes to seat width, is that of the door. Bordeau tells us that the question of how to achieve a door level of privacy while minimising seat weight is by no means settled yet. In addition to the doors in the rendering, Stelia is also working on a lighter weight privacy option.

Stelia’s next-generation seat strategy is twofold, with the herringbone market served by its Opera product initially designed for the Airbus A320neo’s long-range family members and the staggered market served by Rendez-Vous. While Stelia’s history has been built on the Solstys stagger, Bordeau explains that the company has likely reached “the end of the equation” for improvements to this increasingly optimised product.

A man and women stand outside of the RENDEZ-VOUS by Stelia.

The airline context in which Stelia is is a complicated one, with the delay to the Boeing 777X and the 787 Dreamliner delivery shutdown leading many airlines to decide to début new-generation products on other aircraft — principally the Airbus A350, but also some late-model Boeing 777-300ERs — or indeed to rethink their new-new generation seating strategy entirely. This has led to what Bordeau calls a “hot summer” as we move into the northern hemisphere’s autumn… is there an unseasonably warm spell for passenger experience to follow?

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Featured image credited to Stelia/Franck Socha