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Qantas says its decision not to add a premium economy cabin to its international Airbus A330 fleet is driven by lack of demand from Australian travellers.
Although all 10 of Qantas’ international Airbus A330s will undergo a refit at the airline’s Brisbane maintenance base from November this year to install its all-new Business Suite business class seats along with Recaro economy seats similar to those of the Airbus A380s, the airline has opted not to add a premium economy cabin to the jets.
“We predominately see the demand for our premium economy product on longer sectors, to the US and London for example, not necessarily the short flights up to Asia” says Kylie Morris, Qantas’ Head of Customer Experience.
It’s a move that puts Qantas at odds with its foremost competitors on the Asian routes.
Cathay Pacific offers premium economy on all flights from Australia to Hong Kong, while Singapore Airlines will add premium economy to its Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A380 fleet from the second half of next year.
Although Qantas’ Sydney-Hong Kong flights will predominately be flown by a Boeing 747 with premium economy seating, services from Melbourne and Brisbane will be on an Airbus A330.
Likewise, all flights to and from Singapore will be on the twin-aisle A330 jets.
Qantas’ international Airbus A330s currently have 30 business class seats and 271 in economy.
By comparison, Cathay Pacific’s Australian A330s carry 28 passengers in a compact premium economy cabin sandwiched between 39 business class seats and 175 in standard economy.
However, Cathay Pacific plans to cut the size of its premium economy cabin on the A330 aircraft which fly between Australia and Hong Kong, with seven of the 28 premium economy seats being removed to make way for 16 extra economy seats.
A spokeswoman for Cathay Pacific said "the decision to deploy the reconfigured aircraft to and from Australia is mainly due to high demand for economy class seats on these routes."
“We believe the configuration change will better suit the current demand in the Australian market.”
Morris is unconcerned over her competitors' premium economy play, which typically attracts higher-paying leisure travellers and some business travellers on a budget.
“We're really comfortable with the products we’re putting on our A330s, including our award-winning Recaro economy seat, which is one of the most comfortable economy products in the market” Morris tells Australian Business Traveller.
Those seats will feature an enhanced design with more legroom under the seat, plus footnets and multidirectional headrests similar the A380 economy seats.
Each seat will also have its own 11.1 inch video screen plus a USB port for topping up your smartphone or tablet.
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