Five years is a long time in the airline business so it’s hardly surprising that Singapore Airlines (SIA) is busy developing new seating for introduction in 2013.
To this end it has appointed design companies, Designworks USA and James Park Associates, to develop its next generation of inflight products.
“Singapore Airlines is always looking towards the future and we have many major investments lined up for the years ahead to help us retain our leadership position,” says senior VP product and services, Tan Pee Teck, “In this business if you are staying still you are moving backwards, as your competitors can catch up quickly.”
The carrier’s existing first and business class seating saw the light of day in 2007. The first class suites (which as the name suggests are even more spacious) appeared a couple of years later on the A380.
SIA’s existing business class is configured only four across (1-2-1) on wide-bodied planes at a time when rivals still offer seven (2-3-2) or eight across (2-4-2) accommodation in their business cabins.
Naturally SIA is coy when it comes to providing detailed information about what the new seating will offer passengers.
However we do know that the new seating and cabin interiors will first appear on new B777-300ERs which will enter service from the latter half of next year. This will be followed by new A350s and B787s as they enter the fleet. Existing planes will be retrofitted but SIA does not provide a timescale for these.
The B777-300ERs currently in SIA’s fleet are rostered for some of the carrier’s most lucrative destinations. So we can expect the new seating to appear on new B777-300ERs serving destinations in Europe, North America and Northeast Asia.
SIA says that the new first class “Will provide customers with a unique premium feel and experience. A revamped seat will feature more privacy and personal stowage space and improved comfort.”
Business class “Will feature a new generation of business class seating. It promises to offer improved comfort in both seating and sleeping positions and more stowage space.”
Economy class, says SIA, “Is not being overlooked. Development work is currently underway focusing on key areas such as improved seat and headrest comfort and personal space for travellers.”
“New inflight entertainment and connectivity offerings and enhanced cabin lighting will also be progressively introduced.”
But some questions need to be answered. What will happen to the suites on the A380? Will they be retained or will they be replaced by the new first class seating?
One important fact which we can confirm is that this new seating is not intended for use on SIA’s regional planes (the A330s and retrofitted B777s). It means these particular aircraft which operate the shorter sectors within Asia and to Australia will continue with the same regional business class installed in 2009.
SIA says it will announce specific details in due course. We await developments with interest.
For more information visit singaporeair.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter