Qantas has announced upgrades to its Boeing 747-400 fleet which will see
the upgrade of Business Class to the same seat that has been implemented on the
In addition to this plans are underway to remove First Class from their
Boeing 747-400 fleet to make room for the Qantas Premium Economy product and a
larger Business Class.
Finally Qantas are in negotiations with airbus to supply future A380
aircraft in a 3 Cabin Configuration in effect removing First Class.
This is quite a bold move from Qantas which will see the removal of
First Class from all but their current Airbus A380 aircraft. So is this the
beginning of the end of Qantas First Class?
The full media release from Qantas can be read below:
Qantas announced today it would invest $400 million to upgrade seats and
inflight entertainment on nine Boeing 747-400 aircraft, and reconfigure its
fleet to meet the changing demands of the airline’s international
Qantas Chief Executive
Officer, Mr Alan Joyce,
said the changes would provide all long haul customers with a leading edge and
consistent inflight experience and ensure the airline was best placed to meet
forecast changes in premium cabin demand.
“The major upgrade will give
all our long haul customers access to our award winning seats and inflight
entertainment Qantas offers on its flagship aircraft, the A380,” Mr
“Customer feedback on the
Qantas A380 experience is overwhelmingly positive, and this experience,
including the fully flat Skybed in Business, the all-new Economy seat and the
inflight entertainment system will be available to customers travelling on
Qantas B747-400 services.”
“We are committed to investing
in premium customer product and service – to meet the increasingly sophisticated
needs of our customers, maximise yields and generate revenue and investor
Mr Joyce said Qantas would always be a premium airline committed to
offering a premium experience, and First Class would remain available on A380
services where demand existed.
“Maintaining a First offering
on flagship routes is essential for Qantas as a premium airline. It is vital that
we align this offering with forecast demand which is expected to be relatively
slow compared to Business, Premium Economy and Economy,” he said.
“Our 14 A380 First suites will
be offered on twelve aircraft and on daily services from Sydney and Melbourne
to London via Singapore and Los Angeles.”
Mr Joyce said the changes were being made to respond to shifting travel
trends across the globe.
“While some travel markets are
recovering from the economic crisis, our assessment of longer term
travel trends, which pre-dates
the economic crisis, shows that international premium travel demand is changing,” Mr
“Just as Qantas was quick to
respond to the downturn, we are now ensuring we are best placed to take
advantage of the recovery and continue to invest in fleet, product and service.
“These changes will ensure we
remain competitive in terms of aircraft configuration, product and service and
that we are better able to ensure capacity is more closely aligned with demand.
“They will also add the
equivalent capacity of more than three B747-400s, ensuring we can support future
growth while reducing the need to purchase additional aircraft.
“The split A380 fleet will
give Qantas greater flexibility to schedule the right aircraft, and the right configuration,
on the right route, based on market demand.”
Details of the changes:
- Nine B747-400 will be upgraded and fitted with Qantas’ A380 standard
seats and inflight product, including a fully flat Skybed sleeper seat in
Business, an award-winning Marc Newson designed and Recaro manufactured seat in
Economy and state-of-the-art on-demand Panasonic inflight entertainment in all
- First class cabins will be removed and Business seats installed in their
- the three-class configuration will offer 359 seats (58 Business, 36
Premium Economy and 265 Economy), an increase of 52 seats overall
- 12 A380s will continue to fly with a four-class configuration, including
First class, but be refitted to reduce Business seating and increase Premium
Economy and Economy seating
- the remaining eight aircraft will be delivered from 2012 in a
three-class configuration and with no First cabin
- A380 seat numbers are to be confirmed subject to discussions with Airbus
The upgrade and reconfiguration program will commence at the end of 2011
and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2013. It will be funded through
the combination of operating cash flows and pre-existing debt facilities. The
majority of capital expenditure will take place in 2012.
Further details of the program, including where work will be undertaken,
will be confirmed once contractual arrangements are finalised.