Qantas is to undertake a major upgrade of its 12 A380s to improve passenger comfort on long haul flights and tap the growing market for premium travel.
Structural changes are focused on the upper deck where 30 economy seats will be removed and some partitions and a crew workstation rearranged to use space more effectively.
This will allow for an additional six Business Class and 25 Premium Economy seats, increasing the overall seat count on the aircraft by one and increasing premium seating by 27 per cent.
Other elements of the refurbishment program include:
Replacing Business Class Skybeds with the latest version of Qantas’ Business Suites with every seat having direct aisle access.
Installing the airline’s new Premium Economy seat in a 2-3-2 configuration. This seat is almost 10 per cent wider than the model it replaces and will debut on the 787 Dreamliner later this year.
Reconfiguring the front of the A380’s upper deck to redesign the passenger lounge to provide more room for First and Business Class customers to dine and relax.
Enhancing First Class, which remains in its current configuration on the lower deck.
Qantas says each suite will be fully refurbished, including contoured cushioning and a larger, higher resolution entertainment screen.
Economy also comes in for some treatment with new seat cushions and improved inflight entertainment.
The airline says work on the first A380 is expected to begin in the second quarter of the calendar year 2019.
All 12 aircraft will be upgraded by the end of 2020.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said “customers love the A380.
This upgrade is a major investment in putting the next generation of seats on the aircraft as well as more creature comforts to maintain its status as one of the best ways to fly,” said Mr Joyce.
“We’re seeing increased demand for Premium Economy and Business Class on the long-haul routes that the A380 operates, including from people using their Qantas points to upgrade.
“When you combine this upgrade with the other investments we’ve been making in new aircraft and new cabins, it will give us consistency with our premium seats across the A380, A330 and incoming 787 Dreamliner,” added Mr Joyce.