Boeing has established a relationship with startup Lift by EnCore, a California-based maker of aircraft seats. On 4 April, the American aircraft maker said it will begin directly buying seats from Lift for its Boeing 737 jets.
The move is a break from Boeing's previous practice of allowing airlines to buy the seats directly from seat manufacturers or suppliers. While the older system allowed Boeing's clients to customize their cabins, the current move will help avoid costly delays which Boeing says it faced because of seats not arriving on time.
Lift by EnCore is a new company which is yet to deliver its first seat, but its founders – Tom McFarland and Jim Downey – are industry veterans. They sold their previous company, C&D Aerospace, which used to deal with seats and interiors, to Zodiac in 2005.
Boeing has approved 11 suppliers of economy seats, from whom its airline clients can choose. But Lift is the only supplier that will sell directly to Boeing.
According to industry experts, the move will intensify competition among makers of airline seats such as Zodiac Aerospace and B/E Aerospace. Zodiac and B/E Aerospace together supply $4.6bn (£3.23bn,€4.05bn) worth of seats every year. This represents two thirds of the total aircraft seats supplied annually, according to AlixPartners, an American consulting firm. Phil Toy, a managing director at AlixPartners said, "It appears Boeing is warning the two main incumbents that it isn't satisfied with their current performance."
Phil Toy, a managing director at AlixPartners said, "It appears Boeing is warning the two main incumbents that it isn't satisfied with their current performance."
In 2015, Boeing criticised Zodiac after the latter missed deadlines to supply seats. This caused delivery delays for Boeing. Such delays seem to have become an increasing problem in recent years because of the increase in the number of planes being manufactured, according to Reuters.
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