Qantas' First Revamped Airbus A380s To Begin Flying in September
The first of Qantas' refurbished Airbus A380s will begin flying in September, with the remaining 11 A380s in the carrier's fleet set to be overhauled through the end of this year and next.
That's according to Executive Traveler (formerly Australian Business Traveler), which sat down with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce for the latest details.
"We’re reconfiguring the A380s nearly as we speak, the (first) aircraft goes in next month and comes out September," Joyce said to the publication, adding that he expects the effort to be completed by the end of next year.
We now have even more details from Executive Traveler on the rollout of the new interiors.
The first refurbished A380 will start flying at the end of September and three more will take to the air by the end of the year. We'll see Qantas' final eight A380s re-enter the fleet by the end of 2020. Joyce said that "roughly" one A380 will be redone each month.
The CEO added that the airline won't dedicate the spruced-up aircraft to one particular route, so passengers will be "surprised and delighted" when they find themselves sitting in a new business class seat. Qantas A380s serve Los Angeles (LAX) and Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) in the US, as well as other destinations in the carrier's network.
The planned refresh includes touch-ups to both first and economy classes, overhauled business and premium-economy products and mechanical maintenance good for 10 more years of service for the airline's superjumbos.
Updates to the first-class product include material changes to modernize the look of the suites. Seat cushions will be replaced to be more comfortable and video screens will be swapped for a larger display.
Related: The 7 Best Starter Credit Cards
The biggest overhaul is slated for the business-class product, which will be replaced with the same Business Suite that Qantas currently offers on its Dreamliner flights. In addition to larger screens and six additional seats in business, the updated aircraft will boast a 1-2-1 layout in business class, with aisle access for every seat. Qantas' A380 business-class cabin currently features a 2-2-2 layout.
TPG's JT Genter reviewed Qantas' 787-9 business class last year and gave the product high marks.
Significant changes are also planned for the onboard business lounges, according to Executive Traveler. The new design, with cafe-style seating and tables, appears better suited for conversation and collaboration than the current single row of benches offered on A380 flights.
The final section of the new all-premium upper deck will feature 60 premium-economy seats. Like the business suites, these products will also feature seats currently used in Qantas' Dreamliners premium-economy section. In basic economy, travelers can expect new seat cushions and improved inflight entertainment.
The first of the airline's 12 A380s will enter maintenance next month and is set to return to the skies in September. The upgrades to the rest of the fleet are set to be finished by the end of 2020.
And for those looking to read the tea leaves as to how long the A380s might continue to fly for Qantas, Executive Traveler writes that the refurbishment "points to the spruced-up superjumbos flying through to the end of the next decade," at the least.