Qantas has its fourth reconfigured Airbus A330 fitted with new business class seats in service, enabling the Flying Kangaroo to thicken its schedule to Asia with aircraft that feature its latest on-board product.
The fourth aircraft, A330-300 VH-QPC, emerged from the Qantas maintenance facility in Brisbane on Sunday, when it went for a two hour and 44 minute test flight, according to flight tracking website FlightAware. The aircraft had been in the maintenance hangar since January 17.
On Monday, VH-QPC resumed revenue service as QF503 from Brisbane to Sydney, and then headed to Singapore as QF81.
The A330-300 joins sistership VH-QPA as the first two of Qantas’s internationally configured A330s for use primarily on Asian routes and to Honolulu.
Flight records show Qantas has used VH-QPA on selected Sydney-Singapore, Brisbane-Singapore and Melbourne-Singapore routes since the first flight on January 17. There have also been two Sydney-Manila-Sydney rotations.
And on Tuesday, VH-QPA was scheduled to operate the QF29/30 Melbourne-Hong Kong-Melbourne rotation, believed to be the first time a reconfigured A330 will be used to Hong Kong.
On the domestic front, Qantas currently has two reconfigured A330-200s – VH-EBV and VH-EBA – flying primarily between Perth and Australia’s east coast capitals, as well as selected flights on the Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne triangle.
In January, Qantas flagged having five reconfigured A330s – three domestic, two international – by the end of March and 11 in total by August.
“We are pushing a lot of aircraft out very fast,” Qantas head of creative development and customer experience Kylie Morris told reporters at Sydney Airport on January 16.
“We are doing the reconfiguration in 30 days which is pretty damn fast.
“By end of March we will have five aircraft.”
Qantas planned to have the entire fleet of 28 A330s fitted with the new Thomson Aero-designed business seat and Recaro-manufactured economy class seat by the end of 2016.
Meanwhile, Virgin Australia was planning to start the refit program for its fleet of six A330-200s by mid-year, with the program due to be completed by August.