Pre-empting the new competitive challenge from Virgin Blue’s forthcoming Airbus A330s, Qantas has announced it will deploy “internationally configured” widebody aircraft, including Boeing 747-400s, on its transcontinental services between Perth and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, in the process adding more than 4300 seats a week.
On the Sydney-Perth route two-class Skybed equipped 747-400s will operate six return flights a week, while international configuration Airbus A330s will operate six (up from three) return services weekly; between Brisbane and Perth Qantas will introduce domestic configured A330-200s, which will operate seven return weekly services, while six return weekly services will be upgraded to widebody 767-300s; while the Melbourne-Perth weekly schedule will feature 2100 additional seats and three return international configuration A330 services.
The changes take effect “over coming months”.
“Our competitors can simply not match the service that Qantas offers, particularly the Skybeds, which provide increased comfort on the longer routes between the eastern states and Perth,” stated Qantas CEO Alan Joyce. “Today’s announcement increases widebody aircraft used across the Perth to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane routes to more than 90 per cent and increases total capacity by 15 per cent.”
In the airline’s two class configuration, Qantas’s 747-400s seat 412 passengers, with 56 business class Skybeds and 356 economy class seats.
Qantas says its domestic A330s will be “will be reconfigured to provide more space and comfort for passengers in the business cabin”, which will see the seven abreast business class configuration on its latest domestic A330s changed to a more popular six abreast, 2+2+2 arrangement.
Virgin Blue is expected to shortly take delivery of two ex Emirates A330-200s which it will deploy on transcontinental services and fit with its much anticipated new business class product.