Scoot’s forthcoming B787 Dreamliners will each accommodate up to 375 passengers when delivered later this year.
In what is the densest B787 layout seen to date, the Singapore Airlines-owned budget subsidiary will equip its Boeing 787s with 35 premium economy (configured 2-3-2) and no fewer than 340 slim-line economy seats (configured 3-3-3).
It is true that the B787s in question are the newer 9-series, which are a longer version of the current B787-8s in service with other carriers, but nevertheless a maximum capacity of 375 passengers is roughly the same as certain airlines accommodate on their larger B777-300s.
It’s all a far cry from the days when the B787 was under construction. At that time, Boeing executives extolled the selling point of the B787 — it would offer economy passengers a more civilised travel experience, they claimed, and there would be spacious eight-across (2-4-2) seating and improved cabin air.
Aviation history shows that low fares invariably equate to decreased comfort levels, but with these particular B787s, which operate medium- and long-haul routes out of Singapore, has Scoot gone a step too far?
That’s the view of Australian aviation expert Ben Sandilands. In his Plane Talking blog, he writes: “At 375 seats, far higher than Boeing ever envisaged in its dreamy eight-across economy cabin, Scoot appears to be aiming at the pain barrier.”
Scoot chief executive Campbell Wilson believes that the fuel efficiency of the Dreamliner will enable the carrier to provide customers with the most attractive fares, as well as improving the inflight experience.
But Sandilands wonders whether or not the B787 can live up to its quality air claim with so many passengers onboard.
He adds: “One of the selling points of the B787 is a claimed high cabin humidity level. Those brochure claims were initially made for eight-across spaced out Dreamliners with a multi-class [both premium and economy classes] containing anything from less than 200 seats to around 250 seats.”
Scoot has 20 B787s on order. The first of its ten B787-9s on order will arrive in November, while from the middle of 2015 its ten B787-8s, which will carry 330 passengers, will start to arrive.
The carrier’s existing fleet of B777s will gradually be retired as the B787s are delivered.
Scoot’s main routes connect Singapore with Australia, China, South Korea, Taipei and Japan. There are currently no plans to serve Europe or the US.