PICTURE: Delta taps Weber and Panasonic for refurbishment of 747s

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Delta Air Lines has revealed details of its refurbishment strategy for 16 Boeing 747s, which entered the fleet through the carrier's merger with Northwest Airlines.

The SkyTeam alliance member will fit the BusinessElite cabins of its 747s with 48 new, custom-designed, flat-bed seats manufactured by Weber Aircraft.

Window seats will face the window for improved privacy and centre seats will be angled toward each other "for the convenience of customers travelling together", says Delta.

The new seat also features a 120-volt universal power outlet, USB port, personal LED reading lamp and Panasonic Avionics' 15.4in personal in-flight entertainment monitors with access to 250 new and classic movies, premium programming, video games and more than 4,000 digital music tracks.

Delta's 747s are dedicated largely to trans-Pacific and intra-Asia flights to and from Toyko-Narita. Retrofits will begin next summer and continue through 2012.

Delta says the fully-horizontal seat is similar to the flat-bed product currently offered on its Boeing 777-200LR fleet. The carrier is also bringing flat-bed seats to its trans-oceanic 767s.

"We have had great success from a customer service and business standpoint with flat-bed service since it first rolled out on our 777 fleet, and we expect similar results when customers experience our new trans-Pacific 747 and 767 BusinessElite product beginning next year," says Delta president Ed Bastian.

Delta today also confirmed plans to fit the economy-class cabins of its 747s with an award-winning new product from Panasonic and Weber that integrates lightweight, touchscreen in-flight entertainment with a slimline economy seat. The arrangement was exclusively reported by ATI and Flightglobal last month.

"Using a 9in (22.9cm) screen, the new seat's embedded touch-screen entertainment system will offer each customer access to 250 movie titles, hundreds of television shows, 4,000 digital music tracks, personalized music playlists, more than a dozen interactive games and a USB port to charge iPods and other personal electronic devices," says Delta.

The new Panasonic Integrated Smart Monitor uses 30% less energy and is 60% lighter than IFE installed on other Delta aircraft. Delta also notes that the actual seats offer "up to 1.5in more personal space and increased under-seat storage" through the slimline design, which more efficiently uses cabin space than the older, heavier seats they replace.

When reconfigured, the 747s will accommodate 386 customers with 48 BusinessElite seats and 338 economy class seats. According to SeatGuru, the aircraft currently accommodate 403 customers with 65 lie-flat seats in business and 338 seats in economy. Lie-flat seats do not recline to a fully horizontal position.

The investments are the latest in Delta's previously announced plan to invest more than $1 billion in enhanced global products and services through 2013.

"While we have solidly positioned ourselves as the leading US carrier across the Pacific in terms of flights and destinations, we are now taking steps to enhance the products and services offered across our Asian-Pacific network to position Delta as a leader in in-flight service," says Bastian.

Flightglobal understands that some of Delta's 767s and MD-90s have also been earmarked for retrofit with the new Panasonic/Weber integrated seats.