More seats, fewer suites as Singapore Airlines spends US$850 million on A380 upgrades

The new Suites have kept the existing option of having a double bed in the skies.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) will have a consistent configuration across its entire fleet of 19 Airbus A380s as part of a US$850 million upgrade of seats in all cabin classes, with the aircraft to feature more seats and fewer suites.

The airline unveiled new designs for its first class suites and business class cabins, as well as improvements to premium economy and economy seats, at a media event in Singapore on Thursday.

Under the new configuration, SIA plans to have 471 seats on its A380s, comprising six in suites, 78 in business, 44 in premium economy and 343 in economy. Suites is being moved to the upper deck alongside business class, while premium economy and economy will stretch out across the entire lower deck.

Flightglobal reporter Mavis Toh posted the new A380 seat map on Twitter.

This represents a capacity increase of between seven per cent and 24 per cent from SIA’s two A380 configurations currently flying. The Star Alliance member has eight A380s with 379 seats (12 suites, 86 business, 36 premium economy and 245 economy) while 11 have 441 seats (12 suites, 60 business, 36 premium economy and 333 economy).

SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong said he was excited to show off the results of four years of research and design work that involved extensive customer research, customer focus groups and close partnership with designers, suppliers and other partners.

“We are confident that the result will genuinely wow our customers and together with our legendary inflight service of our cabin crew we are sure that this will continue to provide our customers an unparalleled travel experience,” Goh told local and international reporters at the official launch in Singapore on Thursday.

“Today’s launch signifies our continued investment in products and services, our long-term approach to ensure that we continue to lead the industry and our confidence in the future of premium, full-service travel.”

The new cabin products will be installed on five new A380s the airline has on firm order from Airbus. These five aircraft will replace SIA’s five oldest A380s, which have started being returned to lessors.

Meanwhile, the remaining 14 A380s will be retrofitted with the new seats starting in late 2018, with the project due to be completed in 2020 as part of the US$850 million investment.

The new fully-enclosed A380 suites feature a separate fully flat bed, a leather seat that swivels up to 270 degrees, as well as adjustable mood lighting, a credenza featuring plenty of storage spaces, as well as a 32in HD monitor and companion tablet.

The number of suites, which were designed by Pierrejean Design Studio and manufactured by Zodiac Seats UK, has been halved from 12 to six.

Goh said the thinking behind the reduction in number of suites was a combination of wanting to give more space to customers – each individual suite has increased from about 30sq ft to about 50sq ft – and based on “what we see as the demand pattern for A380 suites”.

A supplied image of Singapore Airlines' new Airbus a380 Suites. (Singapore Airlines)
Singapore Airlines Suites features a seat that swivels 270 degrees.

Meanwhile, SIA has maintained its forward-facing 1-2-1 configuration for the 78 business class seats, where every passenger has unobstructed access to the aisle.

However, there have been some new elements introduced in what is a seat designed from the ground up by JPA Design of the UK and manufactured Japanese firm JAMCO Corporation.

The biggest change is instead of the seat flipping over to form a fully-flat bed, as is now the case, it reclines from an upright position to form the bed. A mattress topper is supplied, as well as a duvet for sleeping. This design will offer passengers more reclining options when the seat is in upright mode.

Further, the use of carbon composite materials has enabled the seat structure to be thinner, which has created enough space to store a roller bag in the seat area rather than in an overhead locker.

Singapore Airlines new A380 business class. (Jordan Chong)
Singapore Airlines new A380 business class. (Jordan Chong)

Passengers travelling on SIA’s A380 in economy and premium economy – which is now on the lower deck – also stand to benefit from an enhanced inflight entertainment system “mykrisworld”, where members of the airline’s frequent flyer program Krisflyer will be able to “bookmark” where they finished watching one movie at the end of a flight in order to pick up from where they left off on their next flight.

Singapore Airlines new A380 premium economy class. (Jordan Chong)
Singapore Airlines has branded its premium economy class with orange and blue. (Jordan Chong)

Further, economy class passengers will have a touchscreen IFE monitor that eliminated the need for a separate handset. The monitor is also larger than what is flying on SIA’s A380s currently at 11.1in, compared with 10.6in. There is also a new six-way headrest that offers more neck support.

Goh said the underlying theme of the new designs was more space, greater privacy and more attention to personal needs.

“We’re taken bold steps to innovate and to push the boundaries on what is possible in an aircraft,” Goh said.

“With cutting-edge design and features, we are certain that our new cabin products will redefine standards for air travel and ensure that Singapore Airlines remains the world’s preeminent full-service carrier.”

The Virgin Australia shareholder and alliance partner said in October the first A380 with the new products would begin passenger service on the Singapore-Sydney route, with the first flight on December 18.

The A380s will seat 343 in economy on the main deck.

Comments

  1. Geoff says

    The best upgrade for the best aircraft for the best airline.

    Congratulations Singapore Airlines. You have done it again.

  2. John says

    I loved the economy upstairs as it was 2 4 2 so couples could get 2 seats next to window . Came with a handy side pocket next to window due to the curvature of the wall . Not happy all economy will now be downstairs at 3 4 3

  3. Peter Briant says

    The A380’s already become a white elephant hasnt it? You dont see them doing the same upgrade to their 777’s or 330’s. The 747’s are on the outer, because they fly with 4 engines. As does the A380’s of course. Just because the A380 is a more modern aircraft, doesnt change the fact, it flies with 4 engines

  4. Geoff says

    Peter B,

    The A380 is just starting, after its initial foundational footing. Emirates will order another batch very soon and they will be the “plus” version – a significant upgrade aerodynamically. It is simply too big for only two engines.

    Others will follow as the worlds population becomes ever more urbanised. This magnificent machine has a bright future.