Airbus has created Airbus Interiors Services (AIS) to perform commercial aircraft cabin upgrade work, as a revamp of its former Airbus Corporate Jet Center (ACJC) business.

Toulouse-based AIS, which is part of Services by Airbus, will support airlines with Airbus cabin upgrades under the parent manufacturer’s design organization approval (DOA).

“AIS will deliver upgrade solutions, tailored equipment and innovative products to Airbus standards,” Airbus said, formally unveiling the new unit at Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg.

The division is a reincarnation of Airbus corporate jet completions unit ACJC, which was formed in 2007 and changed its name to AIS in the final quarter of 2016. AIS became a legal entity over the past few weeks.

Unlike its predecessor, AIS will be dedicated to commercial aircraft work, subcontracting any business aviation refits to third-party providers.

“I see a lot of traction in upgrades down the road. One-hour flights will be equipped with connectivity—I feel this will be the trend,” Airbus SVP and head of services business unit Laurent Martinez said.

AIS has already taken on 15 clients who were previously working with Services by Airbus, along with 120 Airbus engineers. The company has signed at least one new customer over the last two weeks.

The existing contracts include A320 work for Finnair, A330 work for Iberia, TAP Portugal and Virgin Atlantic, as well as A350 work for Delta Air Lines. Work packages have included Virgin Atlantic’s new business class, connectivity assignments and a separate project covering A320 emergency equipment stowage.

AIS’s specialisms will include the design and manufacture of tailored equipment, delivered either to Airbus (supplier-furnished equipment) or to airlines (buyer-furnished equipment). Cabin and connectivity upgrades, combining Airbus Service Bulletins (SBs) and AIS’s own solutions. Finally, AIS will design and produce products for the Airbus cabin portfolio, such as new central ceiling stowage for A320 family classic cabin.

“AIS is already up and running,” AIS general manager Joel Frugier told media in Hamburg. “This is all about cabin differentiation. Passengers come for the ticket price, but come back again for the experience. What you need to remember is that cabins are a key differentiator in a very competitive market. Especially in cabin interiors, the time to market is very important.”

Through its close ties to Airbus, Frugier said AIS can accelerate retrofits and, in one example, it did a year’s worth of work on a complex high cabin partition in just six months. 

Frugier declined to forecast AIS’s future revenues or business growth, but added: “We are very ambitious with this upgrade market.”

Victoria Moores