South African Airways' all-new business class seats have made their debut on the airline's new Airbus A330-300 jet – but they won't be fitted to the long-range A340 aircraft which fly between Perth and Johannesburg.
It's the first of five factory-fresh jets due from the Airbus hangar, with a second due by year's end and three more in early 2017, and marks the start of a long-awaited revitalisation for the Star Alliance member.
The new seats are based on the Vantage XL design by Thompson Aero Seating – an increasingly popular choice among airlines such as Qantas (the Vantage XL is the basis for the Qantas Airbus A330 and Boeing 787 business class), SASand Delta, while the simpler Vantage model is used by Malaysia Airlines and Swiss.
A staggered 1-2-1 layout provides privacy and direct-aisle access for every passenger, and the seats convert into a fully-flat bed.
The Airbus A330-300 is a larger, longer-range version of SAA's A330-200 fleet, with 46 seats in business class and 203 in economy.
However, a spokesman for South African Airways has confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that "the new (A330) seats won't be installed in other aircraft."
This means the long-range four-engine A340s which ply the 11 hour trek between Perth and Johannesburg will be staying with its lie-flat but 2-2-2 business class seats.