Just as it did with the Airbus A380 about seven years ago, Singapore Airlines (SIA) has again chosen Sydney to debut a new product offering.
The NSW capital will be the first city to receive SIA’s premium economy cabin, with flights featuring the new class of cabin due to begin in August.
The airline unveiled the premium economy product to the world on Tuesday, joining the likes of Cathay Pacific, Qantas, British Airways, Lufthansa, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand to have a cabin in between business and economy.
SIA said premium economy would be offered on selected routes served with Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, as well as on its yet-to-be-delivered Airbus A350 fleet.
The cost of fitting 19 A380s, 19 777-300ERs and the first 20 A350 on order with premium economy would cost about US$80 million, SIA said.
The first flight with premium economy was scheduled for August 9, with the SQ221 departure from Singapore on the A380. The first 777-300ER premium economy flight, also to Sydney, was due to commence with the SQ231 on August 12.
SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong said the development of the premium economy seat – designed by JPA Design and manufactured by ZIM Flugsitz GmbH (A380 and 777-300ER) and Zodiac Seats US (A350) – was based on what its passengers wanted.
“Many of our customers’ suggestions have been incorporated into the new product, and we are confident it will be well received by travellers who are looking for more features – in the seat design, in-flight offerings and exclusive privileges – all underpinned by the exceptional service that SIA is well known for, both on the ground and in the air,” Goh said in a statement.
Sydney was SIA’s inaugural route when the Airbus A380 superjumbo made its commercial debut in October 2007.
The A380 premium economy cabin will feature 36 seats laid out in a 2-4-2 configuration. As a result of the change, the number of business class (60 or 86 depending on the version) and Suites (12) seats will remain the same, with economy reduced by 66 seats.
On the 777-300ER, SIA is halving the first class cabin from eight seats to four, increasing business from 42 to 48 and reducing economy from 228 to 184 in order to accommodate a 28-seat premium economy cabin, which will also be in a 2-4-2 configuration. Economy class on the 777-300ER remains at nine across in a 3-3-3 format.
Premium economy will have 38-inch seat pitch and seat width of 18.5 or 19.5 inches, with passengers able to access a “Book the Cook” menu, checkin via a dedicated line and offered champagne on board. Inflight entertainment is provided through a 13.3-inch HD monitor.
The airline has scheduled premium economy for long-haul A380 and 777-300ER routes such as London Heathrow, Paris, Frankfurt, New York JFK, Munich, Manchester, Zurich, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Medium-haul destinations from Sinapore to Hong Kong, Sydney, Auckland, Delhi, Mumbai, Tokyo Narita, Shanghai Pu Dong and Seoul Incheon were also slated to receive premium economy service.
SIA has launched a new website to explain the premium economy offering.
British Airways is the only other airline offering premium economy between Sydney and Singapore, as Qantas’s A330s used on the route do not have that cabin.
A price comparison made on Tuesday afternoon showed a return premium economy ticket on SIA from Sydney to Singapore on August 10 and returning a week later cost about $2,300. The website noted prices started at just under $1,600. By contrast, BA’s premium economy ticket for the identical travel dates was under $1,200.