Malaysia Airlines' shiny new Airbus A380 made its debut this morning at Heathrow's Terminal 4, after introduction on the carrier's flagship Kuala-Lumpur-London service.
The new 494 seater is operating one of the airline's two daily services between the cities on an initial three-times weekly frequency. The A380 will go daily from mid-August when the second aircraft arrives. This machine will be on display all next week at the Farnborough air show.
MAS has configured its A380s with a three-class layout, comprising eight first, 66 business and 420 economy seats.
The first-class cabin is in the traditional slot on the A380, in the forward main-deck area. Business is on the upper deck (pictured, above)., with the economy cabins split between the main and rear upper decks. All the cabins debut new on-board product offerings, including what MAS claims is the widest first-class seat in service (pictured, bottom).
Interestingly, economy passengers with children will be discouraged from booking the upper-deck seats until all the main-deck places are occupied. Apparently there is concern that noisy kids will disturb business-class passengers (children will, of course, be permitted to book seats in the business cabin).
The MAS group CEO AJ Yahya says that a total of four A380s will be delivered this year, with the final two arriving in 2013. Other early destinations earmarked for the aircraft include Sydney, Tokyo Narita and Beijing.
The MAS A380s, which will replace all nine of the airline's Boeing 747-400s by March next year, had originally been planned with a premium economy cabin on the upper deck. These were replaced with around two more rows of business seats, says Yahya. "We took premium economy out because we thought it would be easier for us to sell business class, and we think we can manage the yield better through business class," he says.
After a morning on the ground at drizzly LHR, MAS's new A380 left T4 fully loaded for its first London-KL service just after mid-day, operating flight MH003.