British Airways will push ahead with a upgrade to its Airbus A380s, adding the airline’s current Club Suites business class along with all-new first class suites.
The superjumbo refresh was originally slated to commence in 2023 and run through to 2025, until the global pandemic not only scuppered those plans – while also pushing back the Boeing 787 refurbs – but saw all twelve A380s grounded.
Now the A380s are back in the skies, helping meet a worldwide travel surge which has also seen the likes of Etihad Airways, Lufthansa and Qatar Airways resurrect their double-decker jets, and British Airways CEO Sean Doyle says the A380s have many years ahead of them.
Speaking with The Sunday Times, Doyle confirmed the Oneworld member would spend hundreds of millions of pounds to bring its A380s up to modern spec.
This will include replacing the dorm-like Club World business class with the infinitely superior Club Suites, which offer direct aisle access, more space and privacy for travellers and sliding doors.
There’ll also be a fresh take on first class, with that primo cabin possibly relocated to the upper deck
Doyle says the airline is “really committed to First, it’s an important part of the proposition,” adding “British Airways will be one of the few carriers to retain first on the scale that we do. It will be on about 65 per cent of all our long-haul flights.”
British Airways has long planned a new first class for its Boeing 777-9 jets, which were initially due in 2022 but are now unlikely to be delivered until 2026 at the earliest.
Approached by Executive Traveller, British Airways declined to comment but noted the airline is always looking towards the next iteration of any seat or suite.
British Airways’ most recent changes to first class involved a refresh of the current Dreamliner First suite to add a sliding door, which has since debuted on the Boeing 777.
However, Doyle could push BA into dramatic new directions, even if it means cutting down on the current lower-deck count of 14 First suites in the name of more space and luxury for high flyers.
Relocating first class to the nose of the upper deck could then see the entire floor become a ‘premium’ cabin, with the lower or main deck dedicated to premium economy and economy.