Qantas may have more than twice the market share of its closest international rival but the Australian flag-carrier is determined to hang onto every one of its passengers – especially those in the ‘premium’ space of business travel.
As part of its Q Futures programme the airline is now casting a close eye over its international aircraft and services, along the same lines as the ‘new domestic experience’ which has revamped Qantas Club and Qantas Business lounges, served up an improved Neil Perry menu and introduced Next-Generation Checkin.
(Although as we reported, the rollout of a new domestic business class on some flights was considered two steps forward and one step back.)
Advertising magazine AdNews reports that Qantas is creating “a new team led by executive manager customer & marketing, Lesley Grant”.?? Qantas head of corporate affairs Olivia Wirth tells AdNews’ Helen Hull that Grant “played a key role in the Qantas domestic refresh program and the roll-out of Next-Generation check in, onboard enhancements and new lounges. The project has now been extended to our international product and services.”
Part of the Q Futures plan includes upgrading nine 747-400s – six of which are the extended-range 400ERs – to receive Airbus A380-style cabins and seating for business, premium economy and economy.
The rejuvenated jumbos will score the A380's lie-flat beds for business class (above).
The fitout will swap the 747's 'lie-angled' seats for fully flat Skybeds in business, get new inflight entertainment systems from tip to tail and also pick up the A380’s self-service bars (below). These will also be among the last 747s to lose their first class cabin, which will be replaced with business class Skybed seats.
The upgrade process for the nine newest 747s will begin later this year, with the remaining 11 jumbos in the fleet being retired from 2013 by factory-fresh A380s (Qantas already has eight of the superjumbos but 12 more are on the books) and at a later stage, Boeing’s 787 (where Qantas has the world’s second largest order of 50 Dreamliners).
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce previously flagged the changes as vital to the airline’s competitive position and in response to changing global travel trends.
“Our assessment of longer-term travel trends ... shows that international premium travel demand is changing" Joyce reflects. “We are committed to investing in premium customer product and service – to meet the increasingly sophisticated needs of our customers, maximise yields and generate revenue and investor returns."
"These changes will ensure we remain competitive in terms of aircraft configuration, product and service and that we are better able to ensure capacity is more closely aligned with demand.”
The latest Government figures reveal that Qantas carried some 2.3 million international passengers in October 2010 (with the most popular destinations being Auckland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Los Angeles).
That represents 19.5% of the total Australian international travel market, more than twice the 9% share of Qantas’ closest competitor Singapore Airlines.
Emirates and Air New Zealand follow with 8.3% each, although both airlines increased their share compared to the previous year.