Qantas says it will increase the use of wide-bodied aircraft and pour an additional 15% capacity on the key business routes between Perth and Sydney and other Australia’s east coast capitals. The move appears to be a clear response to Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd’s plans to operate wide-bodied Airbus A330s from May this year.
Qantas says the changes will include the use of an internationally configured Boeing 747-400 six times a week between Sydney and Perth.
Chief executive Alan Joyce described the changes as a direct response to growing demand for business travel to Perth and would further cement the carrier’s position as the “best for business” airline.
He said passengers on the 747 between Sydney and Perth would get to enjoy a business class Skybed and all seats would be equipped with personal in-flight entertainment.
“Our competitors can simply not match the service that Qantas offers, particularly the Skybeds, which provide increased comfort on the longer routes between the eastern states and Perth,” Mr Joyce said today.
The changes mean more than 90% of Qantas flights from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to Perth will use wide-bodied aircraft, the airline said, with the 15% capacity increase representing about 4300 seats per week.
Melbourne-Perth will have the hugest increase in capacity, with 2100 more seats per week.
Qantas said the Brisbane-Perth would have an additional 1700 seats, while there were 500 more seats a week between Perth and Sydney.
Virgin Blue announced in August last year the airline would use two wide-bodied A330 aircraft on flights between Perth and Australia’s east coast from May this year.
The move is part of chief executive John Borghetti’s bid to double Virgin Blue’s 10% share of the corporate travel market.
While Mr Borghetti is yet to reveal all, market watchers expect a new domestic product – including a business class offering – a new brand and new uniforms for staff will launched some time in the first half of calendar 2011.