NORTH CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - Singapore Airlines is developing a first-class offering for its new Boeing 777-9 planes that the carrier’s chief promises will set an industry standard.
The planes, 20 of which SIA has ordered, are due for delivery from the 2021/22 financial year.
The new first-class offering is currently in the conceptualisation stage. Said the airline’s chief executive Goh Choon Phong: “We believe when we launch it, we will set an industry standard.”
The Boeing 777-9 will replace SIA’s 777-300ER planes.
Mr Goh said: “(SIA will) be going out to our consumers and customers to get better ideas about what it is they really want in the next quantum leap of service and product.”
The plans are part of the airline’s strategy to woo customers with new seats and features, among other service and product enhancements.
It launched new cabin products for the Airbus 380 late last year. New cabin products for Boeing’s latest Dreamliner variant, the 787-10, will debut on Wednesday (March 28), with the arrival of the plane in Singapore. SIA is the first airline to operate this model.
Mr Goh was in the United States to collect the first of SIA’s order of 49 B787-10 planes on Sunday from the airplane maker’s Dreamliner production facility.
Speaking to reporters in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Monday, Mr Goh also revealed that SIA is eyeing a third route on which to deploy a new ultra-long-range (ULR) aircraft it will receive in the second half of this year.
This is in addition to the relaunch of non-stop flights to New York and Los Angeles with this new aircraft.
When asked about plans for the new Airbus 350-900ULR – which SIA will be the first airline to operate – Mr Goh said there is potentially one more destination that the carrier has “firm plans” for. However, he declined to reveal what the destination could be.
With the Airbus 350-900ULR – which SIA has ordered seven units of – the carrier will resume the 19-hour flights to New York and 14-hour trips to Los Angeles that it scrapped in 2013.
The flights were started in 2004, but the 2008 financial crisis, coupled with rising fuel prices, made the routes unsustainable.
United Airlines launched a Singapore-Los Angeles service last October, but SIA is undeterred.
“We think that Los Angeles is a good market, and our customers continue to tell us that they would like to have direct flights to Los Angeles... It’s part of competition, we are not afraid of it,” Mr Goh said.
During a wide-ranging interview on the SIA group’s strategy and market positioning, Mr Goh said the coming financial year will see significantly more growth for parent carrier SIA.
From 2011 till 2015/2016, SIA was not growing a lot, because of the transition period when planes were retrofitted with premium economy products, leading to a reduction in seat count for aircraft, said Mr Goh.
“At the same time, we were waiting for aircraft with the right capabilities, like fuel efficiency, for us to grow in a commercially viable manner.
"So when the A-350s and 787s were available, that’s how you see that we are beginning to again get back to the growth phase for the parent carrier.”