Qantas plans to squeeze more passengers onto its Airbus A380 superjumbos – by blocking off a pair of emergency exit doors.
Airbus, which will oversee an upgrade of Qantas' twelve-strong superjumbo fleet from mid-2019, is promoting plans to "deactivate" the rear-most doors on the upper deck as part of its Cabin-Flex A380 layout for which Qantas will act as launch customer.
By disabling those doors "the space can be used for seats," an Airbus spokesman tells Australian Business Traveller, "allowing airlines to gain revenue-earning floor-space for extra seating without compromising on passenger comfort."
In the case of the Qantas Airbus A380s, this space at the rear of the upper deck is currently used for a small economy class cabin, with premium economy and then business class ahead of this.
Qantas says the revamped A380s will gain 25 more premium economy seats (of the same design as in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner) and lose 30 economy seats, with the 'mini-economy cabin' being replaced by an enlarged premium economy cabin.
Here's how the red-railed A380's revamped upper deck will look.
The souped-up superjumbos will also gain a larger 'cafe-style' lounge at the front of the upper deck...
... see the Skybed II business class seats replaced by the superior Boeing 787-style Business Suites...
... while the 14 first class suites are also in for a facelift.
Airbus maintains that disabling these rear exit doors will have no adverse impact on passenger evacuation speeds in the event of an emergency.
"The A380 certification for the number of passengers that can be evacuated is significantly higher than the current seating numbers, and the additional 11 seats from ‘closing’ door 3 would not make difference," the spokesman told Australian Business Traveller.
"There is still ample exit capacity. The total number of doors on the A380 are matched to the aircraft's maximum theoretical number of circa 800 passengers."
Approached by Australian Business Traveller, Qantas declined to offer additional comment on this subject.