New look for SIA's A-380 superjumbos

Singapore Airlines’ A-380s currently have private cabins that offer a double bed screened off by sliding doors and roller blinds. The airline’s existing A-380s will also be progressively retrofitted with the new look. -- ST FILE PHOTO
Singapore Airlines’ A-380s currently have private cabins that offer a double bed screened off by sliding doors and roller blinds. The airline’s existing A-380s will also be progressively retrofitted with the new look. -- ST FILE PHOTO

Redesigned interiors to debut in 2017, 10 years after aircraft joined fleet

Singapore Airlines is redesigning the interiors of the new Airbus 380 superjumbos that will join its fleet in 2017.

Planning and research work for the makeover, including conversations with design firms, started last year, SIA spokesman Nicholas Ionides said recently.

"We are in the early stages of the process, so there is very little to share at this point, particularly about what may be expected with the new products," he told The Straits Times.

The new design will debut on SIA's 20th A-380, which arrives in 2017.

That will be 10 years after it introduced the A-380 to its fleet, becoming the first airline in the world to fly the double-decker jet commercially.

SIA's existing A-380s will also be progressively retrofitted with the new look.

While the airline is giving little away on the makeover, travellers and aviation analysts have plenty of ideas.

Mr Shukor Yusof, aviation expert at Standard & Poor's equity research, said the first move should be to either cut the number of ultra first-class suites or get rid of them altogether.

Each A-380 now has 12 such private cabins that offer a double bed screened off by sliding doors and roller blinds.

Mr Shukor said: "What does it do? It's something to show off but it's not where the money is.

"I've been in the A-380s quite a few times and every time I peek into the suites, there's nobody there. Maybe I don't fly regularly enough but that's been my experience."

It would be better to use the space for more business class and economy seats, he said.

Research scientist Tay Wanyi said SIA should consider a premium economy product that a growing number of carriers such as Cathay Pacific have introduced.

"I believe that there are passengers like me who will be prepared to pay up to 50 per cent more than the standard economy fare for more spacious seats," she added.

"I really don't need fancy meals served with table cloth nor a lie-flat seat that can accommodate two normal-sized adults... I would, however, appreciate the luxury of being able to sleep comfortably on a flight that is longer than six hours."

Mr Mario Hardy, a senior travel industry executive, said: "The current product cabin of SIA is excellent and the only thing I'd like to see enhanced is the access to on-board Wi-Fi across the entire fleet."

More than a quarter of SIA's fleet is now Wi-Fi-friendly.

The last time SIA introduced new cabin refits was in September last year, initially on two Boeing 777-300ERs.

The same products will be fitted on its new Airbus 350s, which will start arriving in early 2016.

As well as more leg room, there will be seats offering better back and neck support and bigger in-flight entertainment screens.

karam@sph.com.sg

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