Qantas is preparing to replace the B747-400 that currently services its Brisbane to Singapore route with the smaller A330-300.
The Australian airline announced in February that it would be accelerating the retirement of its B747-400s, which are less fuel efficient than newer aircraft models (see news, February 27).
That news came as it emerged that Qantas is being forced to make savings of AU$2 billion over the next three years.
Increasingly, airlines are retiring the B747-400, with Singapore Airlines bidding a final farewell to the "Queen of the Skies" in 2012 after 38 years (see news, April 2012).
Currently, the Qantas website lists the operating aircraft of flight QF51 (Brisbane to Singapore) and QF52 (Singapore to Brisbane) as the B747-400. However, both flights will be serviced by the A330-300 from May 12.
Qantas currently offers two daily non-stop services between Brisbane and Singapore, with one of them operated by partner airline Emirates.
So what does this mean for Qantas passengers? Well, the aircraft replacement means that there will be an end-to-end capacity reduction in all cabin classes (for a seat plan of Qantas' B747, click here).
Perhaps the most significant is the complete removal of premium economy, which does not feature in the two-class A330.
Meanwhile, business class seats will be reduced from 56 to 30, while economy will see 267 seats, eight fewer than the amount fitted on the B747. For a seat plan of the Qantas A330, click here.
The capacity reduction will, however, be offset by partner Emirates, which operates a daily flight between Brisbane and Singapore.
The Gulf carrier began deploying the A380 onto the route last year, which was previously served by the smaller Boeing B777-300ER (see news, April 23). In line with the codeshare agreement shared by both carriers, Qantas passengers may book the Emirates services through the Australian airline's website.
Another major difference between the B747-400 and A330-300 is the cabin products on offer. Unlike the business class product on the B747 that features a flat bed seat design, the A330 offers an angled-flat seat design.
Although Qantas has announced that it will be retrofit its fleet of 30 A330 aircraft with new seats (which will include business class flatbeds), the process is only expected to be completed by mid-2016 (see news, November 2013).
There has been no news as to when the A330 serving Brisbane to Singapore will be upgraded.