IMAGINE lounging in a bar or gambling on board an aeroplane. Walking around a shop, dining in a restaurant, sleeping in a private cabin, showers, massages and even a gym. Far-fetched futuristic fantasy? Prepare yourself Australia – it could be heading this way. Several airlines – including Australia’s own Qantas Airways, Singapore
IMAGINE lounging in a bar or gambling on board an aeroplane.
Walking around a shop, dining in a restaurant, sleeping in a private cabin, showers, massages and even a gym.
Far-fetched futuristic fantasy?
Prepare yourself Australia – it could be heading this way.
Several airlines – including Australia’s own Qantas Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic – have snapped up the supersized Airbus A380 jets, with 97 of the aircraft on order world-wide.
The double-decker, 500-555 seat $US250 million aviation beast is set to revolutionise air travel when it enters into commercial operation in early 2006, said Airbus marketing analyst Thomas Burger.
With almost 50 per cent more room than the Boeing 747-400, the aircraft gives airlines around 35 per cent more seats and more room to offer innovative extras, he said.
“It offer the potential for the airlines to offer a whole new way to fly to their passengers,” Mr Burger said.
Some Asian carriers were considering using the extra space in the lower deck for a casino, Airbus executive vice president customer affairs John Leahy said.
“Some Asian carriers are talking to us about even a Togel Singapore casino down below, where you could have a little pub and little slot machines,” Mr Leahy said.
“Some have been worried about, (the fact) you can’t fly it into the United States, but actually cruise ships go into the US all the time.
“We are talking to several operators about casinos under floor. There could also be duty free shopping under floor, there could be lounges under floor.”
He said the mammoth A380 was around 17 per cent cheaper to run per seat than the rival Boeing 747.
Qantas has ordered 12 of the massive 515-seat jets, but was coy on what innovations Australian passengers should expect.
Still, Qantas group general manager engineering, technical operations David Cox expects the changes to be dramatic.
The Qantas team would make its decision on the product in about two years, with the first jets to fly the Los Angeles and London to Australia routes in 2006.
“I think every one of the airlines that bought the aircraft, but particularly people like ourselves, are looking to maximise the innovative use of space on the aircraft and to make it a step change from the way people fly,” Mr Cox said.
“How that translates, and which (ideas) end up on the cutting room floor is anyone’s guess.
“Obviously the premium cabin will have more of that than potentially the new economy cabin.
“But there are certainly some very serious studies going on internally about how we translate that into something that will make money for us as well.
“Whether you have things like cocktail bars with glasses lined up … (but) there will be innovation on this aircraft, absolutely.”
The purchase is part of Qantas’ $13 billion fleet upgrade, which also includes 13 mid-range A330s.
Qantas on Friday took delivery of its first 300-seat A330-200 – entering a new era with its first ever Airbus aircraft – which is set to start flying on the Sydney-Melbourne Cityflyer route in early January.