European plane-maker Airbus has announced it is to develop lower-deck passenger modules that sit inside the cargo hold.
In a press release Tuesday, the firm said it was partnering with Zodiac Aerospace to build the compartments, complete with sleeping berths for passengers.
Airbus said the intention is to receive formal approval from aviation bodies by 2020 with the first installation to be made on an A330 aircraft.
Geoff Pinner, head of Airbus' cabin and cargo program, said the concept had been received warmly by airlines.
"This approach to commercial air travel is a step change towards passenger comfort," he said. "We have already received very positive feedback from several airlines on our first mock-ups."
Airbus added that the passenger modules would be easily interchangeable with regular cargo containers, should airlines want to change configuration during a layover or turnaround.
The plane manufacturer said the aircraft's cargo floor loading system would not be affected as the passenger module will be designed to sit directly on top of it.