QANTAS, Australia’s flag carrier, began operations for the first of the new state-of-the-art cabins of its Airbus A380 fleet last Tuesday.
The aircraft, one of Qantas’ 12 Airbus superjumbo planes to have received the major facelift, features a multimillion-dollar upgrade with new business class seats and a redesigned upper deck lounge.
For the uninitiated, in February 2019, Airbus announced it would stop making the plane in 2021 due to a lack of demand. However, this has not stopped Qantas from extending the life of its 12 wide-body aircraft.
“The A380 is a crucial part of our long-haul fleet and this upgrade program will see customers enjoy everything the aircraft has to offer for years to come,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement.
Designed by Australian David Caon, whose projects range from aircraft interiors to tableware, from architecture to furnishings for the workplace and the home, the new Airbus A380 interior extends the lounge in the aircraft’s upper deck, which can now seat 10 people on deep green leather couches.
The upper deck is entirely comprised of business and premium economy seats, as well as the expanded onboard lounge, while first class and economy class seats are all in the lower deck. First class passengers can also expect a new range of services including contoured cushioning and higher resolution entertainment screens.
Qantas has also replaced its 2-2-2 Skybed product with a new “Business Suite”, which features a 1-2-1 seat configuration and provides aisle access to all passengers. This has been dubbed “mini First” by Qantas frequent flyers.
According to Joyce, the changes to Business and Premium Economy seating aimed to cater to passengers on long-haul flights. New amenity kits including socks made from bamboo cotton and new skincare products will also be available.
Qantas has installed the Caon-designed premium economy seats that it debuted in its Dreamliner fleet and has increased the number of seats in this class from 35 to 60. These seats are 10 percent wider than the previous seats in the older model and include a footrest that folds down from the seat in front. However, the seat pitch remains the same (38 inches).
Meanwhile, the economy cabin now comes with a new color palette and improved inflight entertainment. In total, the upgraded aircraft now has a capacity of 485 passengers, with premium seating seeing an increase of 27 percent.
Two additional A380 aircraft are expected to undergo refurbishment before the end of 2019, with each plane to take approximately eight weeks to upgrade. “By the end of this upgrade, we’ll have next-generation seating across our entire long-haul fleet of A380s, A330s, and 787s,” Joyce said.