Qantas has completed the first of its A380 mid-life cabin upgrades, with the first revamped superjumbo (VH-OQK) entering operations on the 1stof October. The Australian airline’s multimillion-dollar upgrade programme for 12 of its A380 aircraft includes new seating, fitted in expanded business class and premium economy cabins, and a refresh of the first class and economy seating. The on-board lounges have also been redesigned (with David Caon), to seat up to 10 business and first-class passengers.
Perhaps the biggest change with the reconfigured aircraft is that the upper deck is now all premium class (business and premium economy), with an expanded on-board lounge. As a result, 30 economy class seats have been removed from the refitted aircraft, with premium seating increased by 27%. The capacity of the A380s after the upgrade is: 14 First Suites (unchanged), 70 Business Suites (up by six), 60 premium economy (up by 25) and 341 economy (down by 30), for a total of 485 passengers (up by one).
The premium seats in the upper deck will not just be more numerous, but also improved. The A380 Skybeds are being replaced with the Qantas Business Suite (based on the Thompson Vantage XL platform), in a 1:2:1 configuration that now gives aisle access to every passenger. In premium economy, the seat model first introduced on the airline’s Dreamliners is being introduced, and the number of seats increased from 35 to 60.
On the main deck, the 14 first-class suites have been updated with contoured cushioning, seat finishes and a larger, higher-resolution IFE display. The economy class seats boast improved IFE systems and have been retrimmed in a new colour palette.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said, “The A380 is a crucial part of our long-haul fleet and this upgrade programme will see customers enjoy everything the aircraft has to offer for years to come. It also provides an increase in business and premium economy seating to help match the demand we’re seeing on our long-haul routes. Working with Airbus, we’ve been able to use the cabin space more efficiently and improve the economics of the aircraft while also providing a better experience in every part of the aircraft. By the end of this upgrade, we’ll have next-generation seating across our entire long-haul fleet of A380s, A330s and 787s.”
A further two A380 aircraft are expected to undergo refurbishment before the end of 2019. Each aircraft takes approximately eight weeks to upgrade. Qantas expects to complete the refurbishment of the remaining 11 aircraft by the end of 2020.