Qantas to Refurbish A380 Fleet

Qantas will refurbish its entire fleet of Airbus A380s, with new seats in all cabin classes and a new on-board lounge on the upper deck. The upgrades will provide a welcome boost for Qantas’ ageing A380 fleet, but Qantas flyers will need to wait another 2-3 years.

The Business class and Premium Economy seats will be completely overhauled, with these cabins also gaining more seats. The current Business Class SkyBeds will be replaced with Suites, similar to those found on Qantas’ refurbished A330s and Boeing 787. The Suites will be configured in a 1-2-1 layout, giving every Business class passenger direct aisle access. The new Premium Economy seats will also feature the same design as those to be installed on the Dreamliners. The number of Premium Economy seats will almost double from 35 to 60.

The “new” J is a major improvement for sure and putting W on the upper deck makes sense too

The First class and Economy seats will also be refreshed, although the basic design will not change. The big news for Economy passengers is the loss of the mini-cabin at the rear of the upper deck. The small upper deck Economy cabin has been hugely popular with frequent flyers due to its more private feel, greater storage space and 2-4-2 layout (rather than 3-4-3 on the lower deck). The loss of these seats will see the number of Economy seats on the A380 drop from 371 to 341.

Business class passengers will benefit from a new, expanded lounge at the front of the upper deck (pictured above). The new lounge, to be designed by David Caon, will offer significantly more space than the existing A380 lounge. But there is no indication that Qantas plans to match Virgin Australia by adding an on-board bar.

But will there be a bar for First and Business or just more seating and a small self serve bar as per now? It seems to me that QF may have missed an opportunity to offer something more innovative.

The announcement confirms wide speculation that Qantas would upgrade its A380s after taking delivery of its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners. But the upgrades will not start until 2019, and they won’t be completed until 2020. This would indicate that Qantas will immediately re-deploy the two A380s freed up from the axing of Melbourne-London A380 flights next March onto other routes. Hong Kong and Singapore are likely candidates.

This means that QF intends to use the A380 freed up by the end of the LHR flights for other routes pretty much immediately and then once they’ve got a number of 787 aircraft do the A380 refurb. Also sounds like they want to give the 787 a bit of time exclusively having the new PE and improved J suites.

The cabin upgrades were confirmed as Qantas announced a bumper $1.4 billion profit for the 2016-17 financial year.

Join the A380 refurbishment discussion HERE.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]