SIA must go the extra mile to win new fliers

Singapore Airlines (SIA) recently unveiled a new generation of cabin products for its Airbus A-380s. SIA has prided itself as an airline that is attentive to details, and these products do not disappoint.

But in today's world, where many airlines appear premium, how can it stand out and ensure that its winning qualities go the extra mile?

A good starting point would be to make its route map work for an increasingly well-travelled flying public. In recent years, the airline has been slightly, if understandably, cautious, growing its network at a slower pace, while suspending some services within just a few years of launch.

Newly launched flights to Stockholm and Wellington via intermediate stops also prove less than ideal, as they do not allow one-stop standard connections beyond Singapore. This risks missed opportunities in capturing new markets and gaining mindshare overseas.

Another way SIA can appeal to a new generation of fliers is to invest more in presentation and perks. The latest products are a step in the right direction, but the airline's nearly 800 weekly flights on older aircraft deserve equal attention.

This is especially so given that blogs, Instagram and YouTube now play a bigger role in shaping travel opinions. As visual impressions matter as much as in-flight experiences, the airline needs to up the ante in its media war on looks and appearances.

Offering free Wi-Fi and reinstating the full dining experience in all classes are further possibilities to consider.

In the same weekend that SIA unveiled its new products, Emirates welcomed its 100th A-380 in Hamburg. Though the aircraft boasts two shower rooms, star-lit ceilings and a full-sized bar, its first-class pods clearly lack the privacy and spacious feel of SIA's new suites.

SIA, being the first Asian airline to fly the Concorde and the A-380, has the substance to compete and to reclaim its title as the world's bellwether carrier. It has done well with its new product launch, but it is now time to make its way into the hearts and minds of prospective customers.

Lin Weiqiang (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2017, with the headline 'SIA must go the extra mile to win new fliers'. Subscribe