Qantas will move selected Hong Kong routes onto its upgraded Airbus A330s with all-new Business Suite business class seats from this week.
The Melbourne-Hong Kong QF29/30 service is first up, with today's flight marking the Business Suite's debut at the hub of Oneworld partner but also local competitor Cathay Pacific.
Qantas' Fragrant Harbour frenemy already flies three of its own A330s each day between Melbourne and Hong Kong, with a business class which boasts similar traits of a fully-flat bed and direct aisle access for every passenger.
Qantas also operates daily flights to Hong Kong from Sydney and Brisbane, although there's not yet any word on if or when these will see this reconfigured A330 sitting at the gate.
Exclusive AusBT review: The Qantas Airbus A330 Business Suite
The addition of Hong Kong onto the A330 Business Suite roster comes with the rollout of a second international Airbus A330-300 fitted with the new business class (and economy) seats.
Qantas now has four of the refurb’d birds flying.
Two domestic A330-200 versions are mostly seen on the evening Sydney-Perth and Melbourne-Perth services and their red-eye return to the east coast capitals.
The larger international-grade A330-300s will continue to spend most of their time on the Sydney-Singapore and Melbourne-Singapore routes, along with some Brisbane-Singapore runs, while also spreading their wings to Hong Kong.
A spokesperson for Qantas told Australian Business Traveller that “by the end of 2015 we will have 15 refurbished A330s in service,” with that line-up split between eight domestic jets and seven international models.
The make-over of Qantas' entire fleet of 28 A330s is due for completion by the end of 2016.
PREVIOUS | Hong Kong is shaping up to be the next city on Qantas’ roadmap for its upgraded Airbus A330 fleet with the new Business Suite.
Qantas launched the first of 10 refurbished Airbus A330-300 international jets over the weekend, with the plane to be shared between the Sydney-Singapore and Melbourne-Singapore routes.
A second international A330 is due to roll out of the airline’s Brisbane hangar at the end of March, allowing both routes to switch full-time to jets featuring the new business class and economy seatings.
“We’re pushing these aircraft out as fast as we can,” says Kylie Morris, Qantas’ Head of Creative Development and Customer Experience, "because our aspiration is to get it out there flying as soon as possible."
“The maintenance hangar in Brisbane is completely and full. Some aircraft are undergoing a major maintenance check at the same time as they’re being reconfigured, and we’re doing that reconfiguration in 30 days which is pretty damned fast.”
The end of August should see another two international A330s take wing, putting the airline in a position to begin flying the upgraded A330s into other Asian cities beyond the launch market of Singapore.
“Our focus is on Singapore and getting penetration on one route so customers will know they’re going to get that product every time” Morris says. “We’ll then look for penetration on other routes as the numbers (of aircraft) allow us.”
“Hong Kong is another important market for us” Morris admits, “and we have aircraft flying there every day from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.”
Morris says the decisions on the A330’s roll-out include consider “our competitors on that route, how often we’re servicing that route, and markets where we can help drive revenue.”
The A330 Business Suite will eventually extend to all of Qantas' Asian destinations – Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila, as well as Honolulu – with the entire A330 upgrade program being complete by the end of 2016.
David Flynn visited Singapore as a guest of Qantas.
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- Best seats: Qantas A330-200 domestic Business Suite business class
- Best seats: Qantas A330-300 international Business Suite international business class
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