Qantas will upgrade its entire 30-strong fleet of Airbus A330s with a new lie-flat business class seat from the end of 2014, as the airline steps up its game in the battle for domestic and international business class.
The airline has chosen an all-new seat design rather than stick with the Marc Newson Skybeds found in its Airbus A380s and upgraded Boeing 747s.
"They're very exciting, there's plenty of legroom and we're very confident that they will get an amazing reaction" Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce told Australian Business Traveller, joking that "I certainly swim in the seats given my size!"
"They'll be the best domestic product anywhere in the world, and it leapfrogs anything our competitor's doing" Joyce continued.
"This builds on the best customer service ratings we've had both domestically and internationally. That's why the corporate market is staying with us – this continuing investment in quality is key."
However, Joyce wouldn't be drawn on specifics of the seat, such as the manufacturer. "We're going to later on give you all of the information about these seats."
The fleet-wide refit will encompass 10 Airbus A330-300s and 20 A330-200s, with Joyce advising that Qantas is "looking at doing the upgrade while the aircraft are in for maintenance... we'll do it as soon as possible but the critical path is delivery of the seats" from the as-yet-unnamed manufacturer.
The refit will also include a new inflight entertainment system plus a refreshed economy cabin.
"The refurbished aircraft will give Qantas International a truly world-class product in global aviation's most dynamic and competitive market" said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, who promised the new lie-flat beds would be "the best domestic onboard product anywhere in the world."
"Our transcontinental flights will be operated by aircraft featuring lie-flat beds in business class and the latest inflight entertainment technology."
The Red Roo came under fire late last year for its choice to install simple recliner business class seats in its domestic A330s, which also saw an unused centre seat covered by a simple plastic shroud to serve as an inflight workspace.
Qantas will also order five new Boeing 737-800s for domestic flights, and extend its current lease on two more 737s, while older Boeing 737-400s will be phased out by year's end, and the Boeing 767s by mid-2015.
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.