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The commercial aircraft upholstery market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of more than 5% during the forecast period.
- Cabin retrofitting activities are driven by consumer demand for the micro-cabin environment, cabin air quality, medical care, and self-cleaning and anti-bacterial material. Airlines are focused on maintaining a brand image and capturing the lucrative business traveler segment. Moreover, increased profits have allowed discretionary spending by airlines on features, such as comfortable seats, and custom thematic experience. Airlines are considering the passengers’ perspective to determine methods by which they can offer the best possible in-flight experience.
- However, the market may be deterred by the stringent guidelines that need to be strictly adhered to while designing the cabin and other associated components of an aircraft. Europe and the US adhere to the FAR/CS 25.853 regulation, which states that the fire must not spread more than 43.2 centimeters from the source. This necessitates the use of flame-retardant fabrics in cabin layout, including seat covers, carpets, curtains, and wall coverings. Furthermore, the aircraft seat upholstery fabric is required to be wear-resistant, stain-resistant, non-toxic, and lightweight to ensure minimal impact on the performance of the aircraft while ensuring maximum onboard safety. Such prerequisites enhance the design challenges associated with the fabricating a seat cover.
Key Market Trends
Focus on Passenger Comfort Boosting Aircraft Cabin Retrofitting Activities
Since the airlines are focused on projecting their brand image amongst the passengers, cabin retrofitting and restyling have emerged as viable solutions for the airline operators to offer differentiated services and achieve the correct balance between cost and aesthetics. Hence, operators are increasingly retrofitting their fleet as cost-effective solutions over procuring new aircraft. The retrofitting activities of old aircraft cabins range from individual seats to entire cabins. For instance, American Airlines is currently engaged in a modernization plan to standardize its fleet. It includes stripping out the main cabin economy seats and replacing them with premium economy seats that are wider and offer more legroom. As these seats command higher fares than main economy seats, the airline can offer customers superior service. Airlines favor long-term associations with their suppliers to ensure minimum disruption to the global supply chain. On this note, Recaro has been the exclusive supplier of the 3530Swift economy class seat onboard the A320 family of aircraft. In April 2019, Recaro announced that it would be supplementing its supplier-furnished-equipment (SFE) product portfolio for the A320 family with two additional next-generation seat types: the 3710Swift economy class model and the 4710Swift business class model. The availability of such models for both linefit and retrofit fitment would reduce the market lead times and also offer the LCCs and aircraft lessors with more options to select from. Such developments are expected to boost the aftermarket prospects of the market under review during the forecast period.
Europe to Bolster Market Prospects During the Forecast Period
Though Asia-Pacific is anticipated to witness the highest number of aircraft deliveries during the forecast period, Europe would be the focus of growth for the aircraft upholstery market. As Western European economies are developed aviation markets, the region witnesses a high penetration rate of advanced cabin layouts, which offer distinctive features in different dimensions of air travel, such as safety and comfort. The growth of the commercial aircraft upholstery market can also be attributed to the cabin retrofitting activities undertaken by airline operators for offering modern amenities and design to travelers, helping the airlines be at par with competitors’ latest-generation aircraft while incurring comparatively minimal costs. The European market is highly competitive, with current trends indicating a consolidation among independent MRO operators in the region. Growing partnerships between airline cabin MROs and OEMs have enabled the latter to penetrate the cabin retrofitting industry in Europe, which portends a decline in market opportunities for independent cabin retrofitting service providers. Airbus is focusing on developing in-house capabilities for cabin upgrades as part of its diversified vision to have a broader role in the complete lifecycle of the aircraft and not remain limited to production. Moreover, the inability or failure of certain suppliers in the aircraft interiors industry to deliver their products as per the specified quality and deadline, has encouraged OEMs to enter the cabin modification business to ensure the proper functioning of the regional aviation ecosystem. Several aviation-grade fabric vendors are present in the region, which supply fire-resistant lightweight fabrics for aircraft upholstery and curtains. AERTEC supplies cabin interior products to several airlines, including Air France. The company is fully compliant with PART 21G and PART 145 regulations of the EASA and produces over 40,000 seat covers annually for integration into several seats installed onboard different aircraft. Moreover, the market is witnessing increased consolidation in the form of mergers and backward integration by prominent players. In March 2018, Airline Services Interiors, a unit of the Airline Services Group, was acquired by Lantal Textiles Ltd. (Lantal) to systematically evolve the latter’s identity as a comprehensive cabin solution provider. Such developments depict the trend of backward integration by key players to consolidate their market position through the diversification of their offerings and thereby drive the growth prospects of the market in focus during the forecast period.
The prominent players in the military sensors market are Aircraft Cabin Modification GmbH, Belgraver B.V., Botany Weaving, Lantal Textiles AG, INDUSTRIAL NEOTEX SA, and Spectra Interior Products, Inc., amongst others. Vendors are modifying their offerings and investing in the development of modern fabrics to enhance the level of safety of their offerings. The trend of backward integration also helps the vendors to introduce low differentiated products at competitive pricing. Furthermore, long-term partnerships are favored in the aviation industry for the supply of cabin components such as seat upholstery. Hence, a breach of specified quality in the fabric of the seat cover may lead to termination of a major contract, with the potential to exert a severe financial strain on the business of a market player.
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