SIA's regional flights get an upgrade

Greater comfort and convenience await passengers on Singapore Airlines' (SIA) regional flights, as the carrier unveiled the latest upgrade to its cabin products yesterday.

SIA invested US$350 million (S$458 million) to outfit the first 20 of its new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners with redesigned seats and cabin layouts.

Economy-class seats now come with larger in-flight entertainment touchscreens, a new contoured backrest and a six-way adjustable headrest for greater comfort.

Business-class passengers on these routes will enjoy the luxuries offered on longer-haul flights, such as fully reclining beds.

With seats arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, instead of 2-2-2, all passengers in business class will have convenient access to the aisle. The centre pair of seats in this class also has adjustable dividers so that customers travelling alone can have more privacy.

SIA last updated its business and economy seats for regional routes close to a decade ago in 2009, on the Airbus 330-300.

SIA took delivery on Sunday of the first of 49 B787-10s, which will replace the older A330-300s, from Boeing's Dreamliner production facility in North Charleston, South Carolina.

The carrier is the first airline to operate the latest variant of the Dreamliner, which is 5.5m longer than the 787-9, and can carry 14 per cent more passengers.

The plane left the United States on Monday, making a 14-hour flight to Osaka and stopping there for about two hours for refuelling and a change of crew. It then flew about six hours to Singapore, landing at 10am yesterday.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, SIA chairman Peter Seah and SIA's former chairman Stephen Lee were at Changi Airport's JetQuay terminal to receive it.

On arrival, the plane received a water cannon salute, reserved for significant aviation events.

SIA had earlier announced Osaka and Perth as two destinations it will operate the new 787-10 on. The flights are set to begin in May.

SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong told The Straits Times on Sunday that SIA was also looking at deploying the new plane on routes to Nagoya and Fukuoka.

SIA expressed confidence the new cabin products for regional flights will help the company stay ahead in the market, amid stiff competition from regional rivals and an overcapacity that is suppressing flight prices and yields.

The new seats were developed through a series of consultations with customers, and from working closely with designers and manufacturers. It is not just a "more superior product" that SIA is counting on, but also the airline's service excellence to win over flyers, said Mr Goh. "With the entire package, we believe we will be able to attract good customer traffic," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2018, with the headline 'SIA's regional flights get an upgrade'. Print Edition | Subscribe