Qantas unveiled the interiors for its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners, along with a redesign for the iconic Flying Kangaroo, on Thursday at a ceremony at Sydney Airport.
The airline, which will receive its first 787-9 in October 2017, showed off the seat designs for business and economy class.
The 787s will have a 1-2-1 layout with 42 seats in the business class cabin, 28 in premium economy and 166 in economy, with 236 seats in total. The airline points out this is a less cramped configuration than many other airlines use for the aircraft, with a more typical Dreamliner 787-9 carrying more than 300 passengers.
The business class seat will be the same as the new seat found on the airline's Airbus A330s, with the added improvement of an adjustable divider between seats. The "Business Suite" also converts to a fully flat bed and the layout will offer direct aisle access for all business class passengers.
For once, economy passengers don't get short shrift with significant advantages on the Dreamliner's seats. The brand new design features an extra inch of seat pitch (compared with a Qantas A380 superjumbo) for 32 inches of legroom. There is also a new personal device holder, additional storage and seat back mood lighting in order to minimise disturbance to other passengers. The entertainment screen has also been made slightly larger.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said more personal storage was one of the biggest requests from passengers.
"Many of the cabin design elements reflect what our customers have told us," he said. "Personal storage rates really highly, so we've created extra space in economy for customers to store their personal devices and water bottles."
The new economy seat, designed by Australian industrial designer David Caon, are a progression of the Qantas aesthetic established by Marc Newson, Qantas said.
Newson was also involved in the redesign of the Flying Kangaroo and new livery for all Qantas planes. The new livery features a silver swirl along the kangaroo's tail along with a silver edge on the rear of the plane. The most obvious change is the typeface for the Qantas lettering on planes, which was "handcrafted for a more streamlined look" according to the airline. The Qantas lettering will also appear on the belly of the plane.
Though the last redesign of the Flying Kangaroo was quite recent, Mr Joyce said this latest redesign, the fifth in the airline's almost 100-year history, was done to coincide with the new Dreamliners.
"We've always changed the design when a new aircraft has come on," he said. "With 787s arriving next year ... and the fact that we're getting to our 100 anniversary, we thought it was appropriate to have a new logo and a new design."
Mr Joyce also said that the last logo design was launched before the rise of social media and that the new design was more social-friendly.
The airline is yet to reveal the first route for the new aircraft, but said it would be revealed shortly with tickets on sale before Christmas. Qantas has also kept its Dreamliner premium economy product under wraps for now, promising to unveil the seats early next year. Mr Joyce said the premium economy seat would be "so different" it would require its own launch event.
Mr Joyce has indicated that range of new aircraft like the Dreamliner and Airbus rival A350's extended range could see direct Australia to London flights become a possibility, starting with non-stop flights from Perth to London.
Speaking at the event, Mr Joyce said Qantas was currently in discussions with Perth Airport to launch direct flights to London.
Mr Joyce said Perth-London, Melbourne-Dallas and Sydney-Chicago were examples of the routes the 787-9 was capable of flying.
"There are a lot of routes we're looking at," he said. "It's so game changing, because Australia has never been connected to Europe with a regular passenger services. When you think about it, it's the only two continents on the globe (excluding Antarctica) that don't have regular services directly between them."
The Dreamliner is a next-generation aircraft, the first airliner to be made of carbon fibre rather than aluminium. The lightweight plane has been a hit with airlines due to its reduced fuel requirements. For passengers, the plane offers larger windows and cabin air that is more humid and closer in pressure to ground level, which reduces the effects of jet lag, according to Boeing.
The writer travelled to Sydney as a guest of Qantas.
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