Singapore Airlines (SIA) has taken delivery of the first of five new-build Airbus A380s to be equipped with the carrier's recently-launched cabin.
Describing the new interior as "breathtaking" during a handover ceremony in Toulouse, Airbus chief executive Tom Enders said SIA would "carry the torch forward for the new cabin generation on the A380".
Although Enders remains "hopeful" that SIA will order additional examples of the jet, Swee Wah Mak, the carrier's executive vice-president commercial, says it has "no plans to go beyond" the 19 aircraft in its current fleet plan.
SIA will take four more new Rolls-Royce Trent 900-powered A380s over the course of 2018, with 14 of its current fleet to be retrofitted with the updated interior by 2020.
Configured in a four-class, 471-seat layout, SIA's double-decker is also the first to employ a number of "cabin enablers", according to the airframer, to allow more efficient use of the interior space.
SIA has opted to remove the sidewall storage bins on the upper deck, permitting a staggered seat arrangement in the 78-seat business-class cabin, as well as doing away with the forward trolley lift to allow use of the forward cargo hold as a crew-rest area.
In addition, the six first-class suites have been relocated to the upper deck, separated by a single aisle.
Roland Naudy, the aircraft interiors marketing director for the A380, says this gives more room to each passenger and makes better use of space. Every suite features both a bed and a seat.
Overall, the new interior accommodates 92 seats more than the least-dense of SIA's current A380 configurations. It includes 44 premium-economy and 343 economy-class seats on the main deck.
The same enablers form part of the broader package of improvements dubbed 'A380plus' – including a higher maximum take-off weight and winglets – which was unveiled at June's Paris air show.
No customer has so far opted for the airframe modifications, which remain at the development study stage. However, Frank Vermeire, head of A380 marketing, says the company is in "mature discussions" with a number of customers over the proposed changes.
"We are still discussing with customers to see what their uptake would be," he says.
He notes that the modifications to the wing "are part of a whole package" with the cabin changes delivering a seat-count efficiency improvement "which is almost of the same order" as that obtained from new engines: "The full package is what we would term as A380plus, but airlines can pick and choose what they want."
At the Paris air show, Airbus indicated that the A380plus package, if launched, would enter service in around 2020.