Members of the public will be able to go behind the scenes at Singapore Airlines' (SIA) training centre, have a meal on a grounded Airbus A-380 plane or recreate the experience of dining on board in the comfort of their homes.
These new initiatives were announced by SIA yesterday, as the carrier seeks new ways to engage customers. It also said it will not be launching flights to nowhere.
The Straits Times had reported on Sept 11 that SIA was looking into launching such flights that would depart and land at Changi Airport.
But the idea was criticised by environmentalists who said it would cause unnecessary pollution.
A movement to suggest alternatives quickly gained traction, with more than 2,000 ideas collated and submitted to SIA earlier this month.
SIA said it decided on its new offerings based on a market study and comprehensive review. "(SIA) considered factors such as the attractiveness of the initiatives to SIA's customers and members of the public, the environmental implications, and their financial viability," it said.
"An idea for a one-off short tour flight, or a 'flight to nowhere', was also initially considered but not pursued after the review."
Its chief executive Goh Choon Phong said the initiatives will let SIA engage customers even as most flights remain grounded.
He also thanked those who gave feedback to SIA about its customer engagement initiatives.
"We are very encouraged by and grateful for the enthusiasm and passion that we have seen," he said.
Senior lecturer Boey Yew Tung of Nanyang Technological University's Nanyang Business School said the new initiatives will bolster SIA's standing. "Reinforcing brand awareness and recall are important tactics for companies, especially when they cannot actively present themselves to the public when their regular mode of operations is severely curtailed," he said.
He added that the training centre tours will likely be especially popular, based on observations from air shows and other open-house tours.
Associate Professor Nitin Pangarkar from the National University of Singapore Business School said none of the initiatives will significantly offset SIA's losses.
Meanwhile, Ms Chevon Low, 30, a member of environmental non-profit organisation PM Haze, said she was very happy to hear of SIA's decision not to launch flights to nowhere. She and three others had canvassed suggestions, many of which were similar to the ones SIA is now launching.
She added: "SIA did make sustainability goals before the flights-to-nowhere proposal, so it's great to see they are committing to them.
"I would love to go for any of the experiences offered and we are sure they'll be very well received."
Aviation enthusiast and engineer Gavin Ang, 25, welcomed SIA's decision to open its training centre.
"We should do more to stop pollution - but there is much more we can do than stop a few flights to nowhere. I thought such flights were a great opportunity to fly the aircraft, to generate income and minimise job losses," he said.
Singapore Management University transport analyst Terence Fan said flights to nowhere would have given pilots much needed practice in handling planes.
But he welcomed SIA's new initiatives, even as he noted that they could have been introduced a few months earlier to try to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
He added that SIA could do more in incentivising customers to book tickets by offering discounts for future trips. "I think if people are willing to book ahead, they ought to be rewarded a bit more."
Experiencing SIA's services on the ground
Singapore Airlines will be launching three new initiatives in the coming weeks which will allow customers to experience its services on the ground.
Bookings can be made on the KrisShop website.
The cost of each option will be announced at a later date. Here is what customers can expect:
• An Airbus A-380 plane parked at Changi Airport will be converted into a restaurant on Oct 24 and 25.
• The plane comprises six suites, 78 business-class seats, 44 premium economy seats and 343 economy-class seats. But actual sitting capacity will be lower due to safe distancing measures.
• There will be an international and a Peranakan menu.
• The meal will come with two free alcoholic drinks and free flow of other beverages.
• Diners will get other perks, such as KrisShop discounts.
• Those who turn up dressed in heritage clothes will get an extra gift.
• The crew will showcase uniforms from the past.
• Reservations start on Oct 12.
INSIDE SINGAPORE AIRLINES
• A tour of the SIA Training Centre will take place on Nov 21, 22, 28 and 29.
• Available activities will include interaction sessions with pilots/crew, craft activities and in-flight meal purchase.
• Other add-on options will be available, such as trying out flight simulators, enjoying a wine appreciation session or participating in a grooming workshop conducted by SIA's cabin crew trainers.
• Parents can pay extra to send their child for a junior cabin crew experience, to dress up in a sarong kebaya uniform and act as a cabin crew member in a mock-up cabin.
• Bookings will open on Nov 1.
• This initiative makes it possible to recreate SIA's in-flight dining experience at home.
• Meals will be created by SIA's panel of international chefs, and will come with wine or champagne.
• Every menu will include SIA's signature satay dish.
• First-class or business-class amenity kit and instructions on preparing the meals will be given.
• Customers can pay more to book a private chef who will reheat, plate and serve the meal.
• Bookings will open on Oct 5.