Malaysia Airlines will outfit its Airbus A350 first class cabin with privacy doors with the aim of turning the seats into suites.
CEO Peter Bellew confirmed the design to Australian Business Traveller, detailing that the seats "will have sliding doors for privacy," adding to the seclusion of the single-row cabin of just four seats.
Those seats will be "a very highly customised version" of the Vantage XL design from Thompson Aero Seating, a spokesperson for the airline confirmed, including a massive 24" video screen
This all sounds more like Thompson Aero's Vantage Suite concept (show below) which is an evolved Vantage XL design.
However, the spokesperson affirmed that the Oneworld airline's Airbus A350 first class is a Vantage XL rather than the Vantage Suite, and has "been customised for Malaysia Airlines to include a privacy door."
The Vantage XL is already familiar to most Australians as Qantas' latest business class seat for the Airbus A330 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and will also be fitted to the Airbus A380 superjumbos from 2019.
Malaysia Airlines hopes to the Vantage XL's attributes such as direct aisle access and more detailed fitout will create a strongly appealing first class environment which is seen as warranting the extra cost over the A350's business class, which will use the base-model Vantage seat already flying on its A330 fleet.
So how will Malaysia Airlines differentiate its first class experience in a seat that most travellers would expect to find further back in business class?
“We’ll also be doing a lot with the food, a lot with the experience on board and a lot with the experience on the ground at London and Kuala Lumpur, and that will give a lot of added benefit to our customers," Bellew previously shared with Australian Business Traveller.
Malaysia Airlines' first Airbus A350 is due for delivery in November, with a second to follow in December, in order to allow the advanced jets to take over the daily Kuala Lumpur-London Airbus A380 flights MH3/MH4 by mid-January 2018.
Australian Business Traveller understands that two more A350s will arrive by March 2018, at which time the flagship MH1/MH2 flight would also be swapped from the double-decker superjumbo to the fuel-efficient A350.
A second European route for the final pair of A350s remains under consideration, with Bellew previously telling Australian Business Traveller that this would hinge on a joint venture agreement with another airline.
"If we can form a joint venture with another airline it might make sense, because it's the ideal way to get another European destination. The only way I can see it succeeding would be to work closely with another carrier."
Failing that, "we’ll use them for something like services to Shanghai and Tokyo."