Qantas looks set to be the first customer of Airbus’s new A380 Cabin-Flex solution that sees two of the exit doors deactivated in order to make room for extra premium seating on the double-decker superjumbo aircraft.
This new “Cabin-Flex” A380 format will see the number 3 doors at the aft end of the upper deck disabled, which is able to create space for up to 11 premium economy or seven business class seats on the aircraft, FlightGlobal reports.
Australia’s national carrier first announced it would be refitting its A380 cabins to offer greater premium seating in August last year. Refitting is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2019, with all 12 of the airline’s superjumbos planned to feature the new layout by the end of 2020.
While disabling the two doors enables 11 premium economy or seven business class seats to be added to standard A380 formats, Qantas has previously stated its overhaul plan would also include the removal of 30 economy class seats in order to make way for a total of six additional seats in business class and 25 in premium economy.
But these classes aren’t just expected to get a few extra seats. Under Qantas’s refit plan its current business class Skybeds will be replaced by its new Business Suites, while the premium economy class seats will be the new models that debuted on the airline’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner late last year. Reconfiguration of the upper deck will also allow for a redesigned passenger lounge.
Business Traveller recently reviewed Qantas’s new Business Suites on board the airline’s B787-9 Dreamliner flight between Perth and London.
Overall, the new A380 layout will comprise 14 First Suites, 70 Business Suites, 60 premium economy and 341 economy seats.
Airbus has been pushing its A380 aircraft following a drop in sales over the past few years, including unveiling an enhanced version of the aircraft, the A380plus, that features a number of new “enablers” aimed at maximising cabin space.