Australian flag-carrier Qantas is to drastically reduce first-class seating as part of a US$250 million renovation of its long-haul aircraft.
Instead the airline will seek to expand its economy class cabins by up to 20 percent according to initial reports.
The decline in demand for premium seating during the global financial crisis had hit airlines in all regions and according to reports which first surfaced in the Australian Financial Review newspaper, Qantas will retain first-class seats only on its London and Los Angeles flights and reduce the number of aircraft with first-class seating in its fleet from 30 to 12.
The changed configuration would remove first-class seating from the airline’s Boeing 747-400 fleet, leaving the first-class product in only its dozen Airbus A380s.
Qantas has so far failed to confirm or deny the move but a statement to the media said that: “We are considering a number of changes to our fleet including the 747-400 and we are still in early discussions with suppliers and manufacturers. We have flagged previously that Qantas is considering a number of options for our fleet, but it's too premature to provide further details on changes that Qantas may make in the future,” a spokeswoman said.
In a television interview, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said: “There is a role for first class but it's not as extensive it was in the past.”