Thursday, August 18, 2011

Qantas confirms all Boeing 747s to be upgraded to A380 interior, Skybeds

Qantas has confirmed its plans upgrade the older lie-flat-but-at-an-angle seat version of the Qantas Skybed (which is on 747s and smaller Airbus A330 planes) to the newer, fully flat bed that you’ll find on the Airbus A380.

For long-haul business travellers heading to Africa, Asia, or North and South America, Qantas’ confirmation that cabin upgrades are definitely coming for its Boeing 747-400 planes will be welcome.

Since fully flat second generation Skybeds are a good bit longer than the first generation Skybed lie-flat seats, we suspect that the new cabins might contain fewer people as well. And we certainly hope that the middle seat from row 23 backwards in the rear cabin of business class disappears.

Qantas flies Boeing 747s on many of its long-haul routes, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Tokyo and Johannesburg, plus connections to London and Frankfurt via Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Singapore. Buenos Aires — which will be replaced by Santiago as Qantas’ South American destination — is also a 747 destination.

Qantas will be dropping flights from Hong Kong and Bangkok to London, handing those slots over to partner British Airways instead, with the plan of consolidating its A380s on to the Sydney-Singapore-London route.

Four of the airline’s 26-strong Boeing 747 fleet will be retired this financial year. It would make sense if these were the oldest in the fleet, which arrived in 1989 and have been in service for 22 years now.

There’s been no news about how Sydney-Perth Boeing 747 flights will be affected by the retirement of these planes.

By 2014, all but the nine newest 747s — which arrived between 1999 and 2003 — will be retired. Six of the ones Qantas will be keeping are the extended-range 747-400ER variety, which come with an extra fuel tank that’s particularly useful for trans-Pacific routes. (Of course, even this model isn’t ideal, as diversions for refuelling on the Sydney-Dallas-Brisbane-Sydney route have shown.)

The airline has 50 long-range Boeing 787s on order, which will replace the remaining 747 fleet between 2014 and the end of the decade.

Image: © Colin Hunter
The AirplaneNut