Qatar Airways has reversed course and will include first class cabins on its upcoming fleet of Airbus A380 superjumbos in a bid to woo wealthy leisure and business travellers.
Airline officials are keeping mum about what signature offerings will be on store for the airline's version of the double-decker aircraft, which will go head to head against A380s operated by Emirates, with its showers available for first class ticket holders, and Singapore Airlines, with its suites featuring a full-sized bed, desk, seats and personal storage.
The plans come as the Doha-based full-service airline carries out a wide-ranging programme elsewhere in its fleet to rely only on business and economy cabins at a time when the global economy is still recovering from the recent downturn.
The A380 "will be the only model in our fleet which will have a first class cabin," Akbar al Baker, the chief executive of Qatar Airways, said last week, adding that the premium cabin will have eight seats in first, with 517 overall in all cabins.
A typical layout on the A380 accommodates 525 passengers, with 10 first, 76 business, and 439 economy class seats, according to Airbus.