SIA to offer private cabins on A380

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"Suites" class provides unprecedented level of luxury and even a double bed for couples travelling together

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has raised the in-flight service bar once again with the introduction of private cabins on its new ­Airbus A380 fleet.

The carrier, which for years kept its A380 interior plans a closely guarded secret, finally revealed at a delivery ceremony in mid-October for its first of 19 A380s what it will be like to fly inside the super-jumbo aircraft. The highlight is eight single and two double private cabins in the nose of the lower deck. SIA says the "Suites", designed by French luxury yacht designer Jean-Jacques Coste, are "a class beyond first" and will accordingly be priced 20-35% higher than its conventional first-class product.

a380 interior

Behind sliding doors each cabin consists of 35in-wide leather chairs that convert into 1.98m-long single beds and, in two cases, double beds. Passengers can work or dine on a large height-adjustable table or watch movies from a 23in wide LCD screen. Companion seats are provided in all the cabins as are personal coat closets. "Developed with our most valued and distinguished customers in mind, the concept of the Singapore Airlines suites is nothing less than ground-breaking in the luxury travel market," says SIA senior vice-president of product and services Yap Kim Wah.

The business and economy class seats on board the A380 are not as revolutionary but still industry-leading. These seats debuted late last year on SIA's new Boeing 777-300ER fleet. Some minor modifications have been made to the business class seat based on customer feedback. At 34in wide the seat on the A380 is 4in wider than the seat on the 777-300ER, which until now was the widest in the airline industry. SIA charges a 15-20% premium for these seats compared with conventional business class.

SIA's A380s have 60 business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration across two sections of the upper deck. There are 399 19in wide economy class seats with 32in pitch spread over both decks with a 3-4-3 configuration downstairs and a 2-4-2 configuration upstairs.

SIA is flying its first A380 between Singapore and Sydney. One of its three daily Singapore-London flights will switch to the A380 early next year. Later in 2008 SIA will also begin using the A380 on some Singapore-Tokyo and Singapore-Hong Kong-San Francisco flights.

The A380's entry of service delivery finally gives Airbus some positive publicity following nearly two years of costly delays. Ironically, just as Airbus celebrated delivery of its first A380, Boeing announced a six-month delay to initial deliveries for the 787.

The first 787 will now be delivered to All Nippon Airways (ANA) in late 2008, compared to the original schedule of May 2008. ANA says it is working to keep delays to a minimum and may defer some Boeing 767 retirements.