It looks as though Singapore Airlines (SIA) will soon be offering 50 per cent fewer A380 first class ‘suites’.
According to Flight Global, the carrier will in future be providing just six first class suites on its fleet of A380s, as against 12 at present.
SIA’s present fleet of 19 A380s will be entirely refitted with new seating in all classes with updated in-flight entertainment and so on over the coming years. No timescale has yet been made available.
But the carrier’s five new A380s will be delivered from Airbus starting in October of this year.
They will have the new seating already installed. Details of what to expect remain a closely-guarded secret.
At the same time it is expected that SIA’s A380 refurbishment will see first class moved from the lower to the upper deck.
Why is SIA reducing first class on its A380s?
SIA is following many of its global rivals who have slimmed down their first class accommodation rather than remove it altogether.
A good example is Malaysia Airlines. It will be phasing out its A380s (which have first class) in favour of a small fleet of A350s.
It had been thought MAS would remove first class from these smaller aircraft. But in fact MAS has decided to retain first class but with just four seats (its A380s have eight seats).
Business Traveller reported on Malaysia Airlines’ A350s some months ago, but this information was unavailable at that time.
Readers who are fortunate enough to fly SIA’s A380 first class speak highly of the suite experience. (The suites are offered only on the A380 and not other aircraft in the SIA fleet).
But unless using FFP redemptions, which I understand is not that easy with SIA regarding first class suites, the cost for travelling in the suites can be prohibitive for most.
For example, a London-Sydney return with SIA first class for a one week stay in September would cost almost £8,500 (US$11,226). That price is for travel in September and includes A380 flights on all four sectors: London-Singapore-Sydney-Singapore-London.
A return Zurich-Singapore first class return with the A380 would set you back a hefty Sfr 9,680 or £7,609 (US$10,014). This for a Monday-Friday working week in September.
Meanwhile a Frankfurt-Jakarta return also for a working week in September (and with A380 flights on the Frankfurt-Singapore-Frankfurt sectors) would cost €8,862 (£7,917/US$10,480).
Some critics claim today’s long-haul business classes are so good that first has become superfluous. Nevertheless some airlines will continue to offer this premium product for prestige and to meet the demands of their most exacting customers.