The battle for premium travellers in Singapore is heating up, with Qatar Airways now offering its Qsuite business class cabin with seats that can be converted into a double bed, on flights to and from Singapore.
There are also adjustable panels and movable in-flight entertainment screens on the centre four seats so that those travelling together can transform their space into a private suite, allowing them to work, dine and socialise together.
The product, which made its debut on the Doha-London route in June last year, is now available for Singapore travellers on the airline's Airbus 350-1000. It is currently offered on two of the three daily Doha-Singapore services. The airline expects that by April next year, all three daily flights will offer the Qsuite cabin, said Mr Justin Kestel, its country manager in Singapore .
"Singapore is an important and strategic market for Qatar Airways and we have always looked to introduce our newest product here given how competitive the market is and the strong demand for premium travel from Singapore-based passengers," he told The Straits Times yesterday when the airline conducted a media tour of its new product at Changi Airport.
As Qsuite is added to more destinations, Singapore travellers - many of whom use Doha as a stopover for onward flights to destinations in Europe and the United States - can expect to enjoy the experience for their entire journey, Mr Kestel said.
Qatar, which now has 30 A-350s and Boeing 777 planes that offer the Qsuite cabin, said the market is becoming more competitive.
"Flat beds and direct aisle access are now the standard for business class travellers and our focus is on refining the use of space and personalisation to maximise passenger comfort," said Mr Kestel.
With premium travellers accounting for a significant portion of revenues, airlines are going all out to woo such travellers.
In November last year, Singapore Airlines (SIA) unveiled a new business class product featured on its Airbus 380 superjumbo. Highlights include a full-length divider between centre seats which can be converted into couple seats. There is also underseat stowage for cabin and laptop bags.
Apart from improvements to the seat, SIA also launched myKrisWorld, which is a new in-flight entertainment system with interactive features that are an industry first.
In March this year, Emirates unveiled a new business class cabin with wider seats laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration for the first time. This was a few months after it launched a new product in first class: a fully enclosed suite that offers window views even for those positioned in the middle, thanks to virtual windows that live-stream views from external cameras.
With the premium market being a highly competitive one and consumers spoilt for choice, airlines are investing heavily not just in in-flight products but the overall flying experience too, industry analysts said.
Australia's Qantas will open a second lounge at Changi Airport next year for its top premium customers, in a multimillion-dollar investment. The new 1,000 sq m lounge at Terminal 1 will be reserved for first class customers and top-tier frequent fliers.
For Indian carrier Jet Airways, the focus is on flight frequency which is valued by premium and corporate fliers, said its spokesman in Singapore. The airline operates three flights daily from Singapore to Delhi as well as Mumbai, twice a day to Bengaluru and has just launched a new service to Pune.