Qantas will squeeze an extra row of seats into its Boeing 737-800 aircraft as part of a refurbishment of the domestic narrowbody workhorse.
The addition of six extra economy seats increases the seat count of the Qantas 737 from 168 currently – 12 business and 156 economy – to 174 seats.
By way of comparison, Virgin Australia’s 737-800s have eight business class and 168 economy class seats for a total 176.
Adding extra seats will improve the operating economics of the 737, which Qantas flies domestically around Australia. Qantas currently has 67 737-800s, with a further four factory fresh examples to join the fleet by December.
“This change represents a three per cent increase to the capacity of Qantas’s B737 fleet,” said Qantas Domestic chief executive officer Lyell Strambi. Indeed six extra seats per aircraft across a total fleet of 71 737s is the equivalent of adding an extra 2.4 737s to the fleet.
Further, some 38 737s which currently do not have individual seat-back screens will have wireless technology installed to allow passengers to watch television programs and movies on their own devices.
“Pending approval from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority, customers will be able to use their portable electronic devices in flight mode throughout the entire flight,” Strambi said.
And all 67 aircraft will be “refreshed” with new seat covers and interiors to improve the in-flight experience of passengers, Qantas domestic chief executive Lyell Strambi said in a statement on Thursday.
Space for the extra row of seats will come from a reorganisation of the rear galley, as well as a newer “slimline” lavatory, Qantas said. Customers were not expected to notice any difference when using the facilities.
“Importantly, there will be no change to the amount of seating space each customer has,” Strambi said.
Work on the 737s, which Qantas said was a “multi-million dollar investment”, was due to start in mid-2015 and take 12 months to complete.