SIA offering more premium economy seats

Premium economy seats in SIA's new A-380, at the Airbus Delivery Centre in Toulouse, France, yesterday. The reconfigured cabin in the superjumbo has 471 seats - six ultra-first class suites, 78 in business class, 44 in the premium economy cabin and 3
Premium economy seats in SIA's new A-380, at the Airbus Delivery Centre in Toulouse, France, yesterday. The reconfigured cabin in the superjumbo has 471 seats - six ultra-first class suites, 78 in business class, 44 in the premium economy cabin and 343 economy seats.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Carrier takes steps to bolster profits amid challenging environment for premium travel

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is expanding the number of premium economy seats it offers - adding the seats to almost every long-haul flight it operates - as it seeks to bolster profits amid a challenging environment that has dampened demand for premium air travel.

Mr Mak Swee Wah, SIA's executive vice-president (commercial), said the seats - which target passengers seeking a more comfortable ride but are unwilling to pay for business class - have been popular since being launched two years ago.

Premium economy seats are now available on 60 of SIA's long-haul planes: the Airbus 380, the A-350 and Boeing 777-300ER. Five more B-700ERs will be retrofitted with the new class of seats before the end of next year.

Mr Mak was speaking to reporters at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, ahead of the delivery of SIA's newest A-380 today.

The aircraft - SIA's 19th superjumbo - features all new seats, in-flight entertainment screens and other cabin products.

The increased emphasis on premium economy is also evident in the new A-380's configuration.

The reconfigured cabin in the superjumbo has 471 seats - six ultra-first class suites, 78 in business class, 44 in the premium economy cabin and 343 economy seats.

Premium economy seats are now available on 60 of SIA's long-haul planes: the Airbus 380, the A-350 and Boeing 777-300ER. Five more B-700ERs will be retrofitted with the new class of seats before the end of next year.

SIA's current fleet of A-380s has up to 441 seats each, with 36 premium economy seats and 333 economy class seats.

Mr Mak said the airline is adapting to the market with its move to offer more economy and premium economy seats: "We look at the market, we see how it has changed and we think that the new configuration suits the demand better."

However, he also said demand for business class seats remained strong, and that the premium economy product is not competing with that segment.

"We were not the first (to offer premium economy) but we went in at the right time," he said.

Instead, SIA is targeting passengers who upgrade from economy.

Giving a more general outlook on the market and challenges facing the industry, including overcapacity, which has put pressure on yields, Mr Mak said the future is looking better for SIA.

With more efficient planes in the fleet, including the A-350s and new products being launched, "all the ingredients for growth" are in place.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on , with the headline 'SIA offering more premium economy seats'. Print Edition | Subscribe