British Airways is proposing adding an additional 52 seats to its long haul Boeing 777s.

This will increase the number of passengers on the aircraft by about a fifth.

At present the fleet has nine seats a row in economy but this will be increased to ten, probably by marginally shrinking the size of the aisles or the gap between seats, The Times reported.

The airline said that the move was being made to meet demand from passengers and meant that it could offer “more low fares” on some routes.

The new seating arrangement will affect the 777 fleet based at Gatwick from 2018 and will be followed by changes to aircraft operating from Heathrow.

BA said that the upgraded 777 would feature better services for passengers, notably a new entertainment system.

The airline said: “We are flying more customers than ever before to our expanding network of destinations and to meet this demand we are updating our 777 cabins to bring us into line with many of our competitors and allow us to offer even more low fares.

“As part of the update we will also be fitting new entertainment systems with bigger screens.”

According to The Independent, Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA parent company International Airlines Group, told investors on Friday that the carrier was “responding to a market opportunity”.

He said that the change would allow BA to “lower the average cost per seat, charge a lower price and stimulate demand”.

Emirates and Air France already have tens seats in each row in their 777s.

Last year it emerged that Emirates was planning to make space for an additional 130 economy class seats on some of its Airbus A380s.