Qatar Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner business class seats unveiled

The airline industry may have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but that hasn't stopped some carriers from making improvements to their aircraft in anticipation of a recovery.

Qantas has taken the opportunity to refit the interiors of its Airbus A380s while they are in storage in the Californian desert, while Emirates unveiled a new premium economy class on its superjumbos.

Now Qatar Airways has unveiled its Boeing Dreamliner 787-9 jet, equipped with a new business class suite.

The Adient Ascent Business Class Suite converts to a 79 inch (200 centimetre) flat bed and features a sliding door for privacy. The business class cabin is laid out in a 1-2-1 formation, meaning all passengers will have direct aisle access.

Passengers travelling together in the centre suites can slide the privacy panels away to create a shared enclosed space. Other features include special mobile device storage with wireless charging.

The designer, Adient Aerospace, is a joint venture between design firm Adient and plane manufacturer Boeing, formed in 2018.

Economy class has also been tweaked with a 13-inch (33-centimetre) Panasonic touch screen as well as a device holder for mobiles or tablets. There's also a rotatable armrest that can be stowed away, creating a more spacious experience, according to the airline.

Qatar Airways has been named the world's best airline at the Skytrax World Airline Awards five times, most recently in 2019 when the last awards were held. The 2020 awards were cancelled due to the pandemic.

The airline briefly became the biggest airline in the world last year, based on passenger kilometres flown, as Qatar continued to fly international routes when other carriers pulled out.

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That included its routes to Australia, which Qatar actually increased capacity on as rivals reduced or suspended services. The airline also launched a new Doha-Brisbane route.

Since March 2020, Qatar has brought 250,000 Australian travellers home, including 45 per cent of all international travellers to and from Australia in April 2020.

Australians won't be seeing the new Dreamliner at our airports just yet - the new plane is currently only scheduled to fly to Asia and Europe. Its routes will be Doha to Athens, Barcelona, Dammam, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, Madrid and Milan. The first service from Doha to Milan took off on Friday.

Last year, Qatar Airways grounded its fleet of 10 A380 superjumbos due to the pandemic, with the airline's chief executive saying half of the planes would not fly again. Akbar Al Baker labelled the A380 "one of the worst aircraft, when it comes to emissions, that is flying today".

The airline has increasingly shifted from the superjumbos to the more fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly Dreamliner and Airbus A350.

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