New breed of planes

Perth travellers are about to experience the most radical upgrade in planes ever seen, with six airlines to introduce new offerings in the next nine months.

The 275-seat Boeing 787, the 315-seat Airbus A350 and the 500-seat Airbus A380 are scheduled to be introduced by April next year, giving WA travellers probably the best that air travel has to offer.

The rollout will start on September 21 when Thai Airways introduces its first 787-8 on the Bangkok-Perth route.

Just over three weeks later Air New Zealand will launch its first 787-9, a bigger model which seats 40 more passengers, on the Auckland-Perth route.

And in December Scoot will replace its daily 777 service with its first Boeing 787-9.

The 787 is revolutionising travel, with one survey revealing 90 per cent of passengers say it meets or exceeds their expectations.

And the expectations are high for a plane that represents the biggest advance in travel in the jet era.

The 787 is the world's most comfortable plane and a quantum leap over any other aircraft in getting you to your destination in better shape.

Last week Etihad Airways chief commercial officer Peter Baumgartner said the airline "would in all likeliness" use its new luxurious 787-9s on the Perth route next year.

Etihad is the largest customer of the 787 with 71 on order and the plane will be configured with eight first class, 28 business class and 199 economy seats.

The airline launched flights to Perth from Abu Dhabi on July 15 with the 262-seat Airbus A330.

Mr Baumgartner, in Perth for the official launch last week, said the airline was "delighted by the enthusiastic response we've had from the people of WA".

"The interest in Etihad Airways and our home, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, has been extraordinary," he said.

Arch rival Qatar Airways is also increasing capacity on its daily flight to Doha with the Boeing 777-300ER taking over from the smaller 777-200ER from October 1.

According to the airline, which started services to Perth two years ago, the route had grown considerably over the past two years with connections to 33 destinations in Europe, through the airline's new state-of-the-art home, Hamad International Airport, in Doha.

Qatar's 777s are the among the most spacious in service in business class and economy.

Qatar is also the launch customer for the new Airbus A350, which is doing test flights on the Doha-Perth route.

The first of three return test flights landed in Perth yesterday.

The plane is due to enter service with Qatar late this year and Perth is slated as an early destination for a possible twice-daily service.

Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific have also bought big fleets of A350s, which will be used on Perth services.

Emirates also plans to introduce the A380 super jumbo to Perth. The airline first wanted to start services in June last year but the promised special aerobridge facility at the airport was not ready and that A380 went to Brisbane instead.

Sources in Dubai suggest an announcement is imminent on the start of Emirates A380 services to Perth.

It is likely the A380 will take over the late evening service to Dubai, replacing a 365-seat Boeing 777-300ER.

The interest in Etihad Airways and our home, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, has been extraordinary. "Peter Baumgartner, _Etihad Airways chief commercial officer _

The West Australian

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