Australia's Qantas Airways is to offer a premium economy class product from early next year on Boeing 747-400s and later on its Airbus A380s.

Unveiled on 25 July, the premium economy product will be offered from February 2008, when it starts appearing on 747-400s on long-haul international services. It will also appear on A380s that Qantas is due to start taking delivery of in August 2008.

Premium economy cabins will be located on the main deck of 747-400s, featuring 32 seats in a "two-four-two" configuration. On A380s, premium economy will be located on the upper deck with 32 seats in a "two-three-two" configuration.

Seats are to be supplied by Recaro and will be 19.5in (49.5cm) wide and feature 9in recline with up to 42in pitch. Premium economy seating will initially be offered on services to London, Hong Kong and Johannesburg, followed by more routes as A380s are introduced.

Qantas has also unveiled cabin details today for its A380s, which will be configured with 450 seats including 14 in first class, 72 in business class, 32 in premium economy class and 332 in economy class.

The new first class will feature "private suites", with a seat manufactured by B/E Aerospace's VIP jet group the new business class will feature an enhanced version of Qantas's existing Skybed sleeper seat, which will be longer and fully flat and the new economy class will feature Recaro-manufactured seats that feature a sliding base.

Qantas says business class will also include a private lounge area on the upper deck featuring leather sofas and self-service bar. The premium economy cabin will also have a self-service bar, while economy will have four self-service bars.

In addition, Qantas's A380s will be equipped with an advanced in-flight entertainment system supplied by Panasonic Avionics, including wide-screen monitors at all seats with more than 100 on-demand movies and 350 television selections, as well as 500 audio CDs and 30 video games, among other features.

Qantas also reveals that it will offer in-flight email and internet access on its A380s through a wireless network. Panasonic and several other companies have been working to offer a product to replace Boeing's former Connexion in-flight internet offering, which was dropped last year.

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Source: Flight International