ZIM next generation premium economy seating

ZIM CEO talks next steps as seatmaker acquires HAECO Cabin Solutions


Hard on the heels of announcing its acquisition of HAECO Cabin Solutions from HAECO Group, German seatmaker ZIM Aircraft Seating is analysing the two companies’ portfolios with the intent of selecting the best products to offer airlines and airframers, ZIM CEO Sven Achilles tells Runway Girl Network.

“We hope that in the next eight weeks, we’ll have a product line defined and sorted out in a way that we have the best products from both companies,” says Achilles from HAECO Cabin Solutions’ facility in Greensboro, North Carolina, itself a fast-growing aerospace cluster that recently saw Boom Supersonic break ground on a new factory. He expects there will be a “mix” of products selected from both companies, with the cream rising to the top.

Majority owned by AURELIUS, the same private equity group that recently snatched up LSG, ZIM Aircraft Seating is the global leader in developing and manufacturing premium economy seats, which Achilles notes is “a very high profit contributor to the layout of an aircraft”. The seatmaker also offers business class recliners and a range of economy class seats, and counts many leading airlines as customers including Lufthansa Group carriers, Air New Zealand, airBaltic, Virgin Atlantic and others.

ZimPrivacy Premium Economy class seat on a Lufthansa aircraft. The seat is navy blue with dark wood-like accents and armrests. Part of the new Lufthansa Allegris interior.

The ZIMprivacy premium economy seat in Lufthansa’s new Allegris colours. Image: Lufthansa

HAECO Cabin Solutions, meanwhile, manufactures economy and premium economy seats — its brands include Vector, Vector Premium and Eclipse — as well as aircraft galleys, lavatories, Wi-Fi adapter plates and stowage products.

Notably, HAECO Cabin Solutions performs aircraft reconfiguration projects through its US FAA-approved Organisation Designation Authorization (ODA). As an ODA with a fully-equipped testing facility in Greensboro, HAECO Cabin Solutions can issue certificates and conduct certain inspections on behalf of the agency.

The HAECO Vector premium class seat on finnair shows the leg rest ejected.

HAECO’s Vector Premium seat aboard Finnair. Image: Finnair

With this acquisition and combination, ZIM Aircraft Seating and HAECO Cabin Solutions will trade as ZIM Group, and can lay claim to being the world’s “fourth largest aircraft seat vendor”. HAECO Cabin Solutions’ ODA distinction, meanwhile, will “significantly help” ZIM Group “speed up new product development and focus on the Zero Emission Cabin effort of OEMs in the future”, notes Achilles.

The merger also expands ZIM’s global footprint. The company’s headquarters are in Immenstaad on Lake Constance in Germany, with production in nearby Markdorf. “I’m in Greensboro right now and from the whole team, in Germany and here, I hear a lot of enthusiasm that we’re now together,” confides Achilles, calling the ZIM Group a “very motivated team on both sides” and noting that they’re “really looking forward to the adventure we’re starting now. It’s really a positive energy that we feel here.”

Calling the combination “highly synergistic”, HAECO Cabin Solutions president Doug Rasmussen says: “Rarely does an acquisition yield such obvious strategic benefits.”

CEO Sven Achilles and human resources officer Leonie Schneider

ZIM Aircraft Seating CEO Sven Achilles and human resources officer Leonie Schneider. Image: ZIM

ZIM Group has made its intentions clear. It says it wants to create “a superior travel experience for air travellers by integrating unique features that increase living space and seating comfort in the personal space of every single passenger”. That will see ZIM continue to innovate and expand its offerings. For instance, whilst Achilles doesn’t think it makes sense to add actuators to premium economy seats – as these add weight and complexity, and impact what an airline can reasonably charge and still make a profit – he says: “[If] a customer wants it badly enough, we are ready for it.”

Neither ZIM nor HAECO Cabin Solutions presently offer a direct aisle access herringbone for longhaul business and first class. Noting that ZIM is focused on maintaining its high quality standards and on-time delivery rate, Achilles says: “At the right time we’d certainly move into a direct aisle, but at this point, it’s not on our priority list.”


Separately, HAECO Cabin Solutions and Diehl Aviation have a collaborative agreement to jointly deliver a wide range of cabin projects, including a new five-abreast premium cabin. Achilles confirms to RGN that ZIM Group will “absolutely” continue this collaboration.

Diehl is also on board, with a spokesman telling RGN that Diehl is already in discussions with HAECO Cabin Solutions and its new owner “to evaluate partnership options for the future”.

As ZIM Group, the combined company will advance its sustainability work. Achilles says the firm is working “very closely” with its supply base to eliminate waste at the very beginning of the development phase.

“If we are able to reduce the scrap, you can imagine how much plastic we will not put on the landfill,” says the ZIM CEO.

Related Articles:

Featured image credited to ZIM Aircraft Seating