Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce says the airline’s new business class seat represents the best domestic in-flight experience in the world.
The new seats were unveiled at the Qantas domestic terminal at Sydney Airport on Tuesday.
The modified Thompson Aero Seating design developed in collaboration with Marc Newson will allow customers to stay in the recline position from before push-back at the gate all the way through to touchdown, pending approval from the aviation regulator.
“On these aircraft at least, it is the end of the phrase ‘please return your seats to the upright position’,” Joyce told reporters at Sydney Airport on Tuesday.
“We believe this product will deliver the best travel experience between Australia and Asia, and probably the best domestic travel experience anywhere in the world.”
Joyce said the Qantas offering had three per cent more bed space, five per cent more total area and 13 per cent more work space than Virgin’s recently announced new business seat.
The Flying Kangaroo also has first mover advantage over its domestic rival, with Qantas planning to have their new seats in Australian skies before the end of December.
Joyce said Qantas would have five aircraft reconfigured by the time the first Virgin Airbus A330-200 with its new business seat starts flying in March 2015.
The first Qantas international flights with the new seat will be in January 2015.
The entire fleet of 28 Qantas Airbus A330s was expected to be fitted by 2016, Joyce said.
As a result of the new 1-2-1 configuration and direct aisle access for every passenger, the A330 business class cabin will be reduced to 28 seats, from a little over 30 currently.
Qantas has also unveiled an updated version of the Recaro-designed economy seat that are currently on the carrier’s Airbus A380 and refreshed Boeing 747-400 fleet. The new economy seats to feature on the A330 have a larger seat-back monitor, more support and USB power.