Singapore Airlines says it is able to add more seats on its Airbus A380s through the better use of space, to help it better match supply and demand across the various classes.
While unveiling new cabin products for its A380 fleet today, the airline disclosed that its five new incoming A380s will be fitted with 471 seats. This comprises six suites, 78 business, 44 premium economy and 343 economy seats.
SIA's existing A380s have two configurations: one with 441 seats, the other with 379.
Speaking to reporters, chief executive Goh Choon Phong says the new configuration allows for more seats through the better use of space. The suites and business class will be on the upper deck, premium economy and economy on the main deck.
This differs from its current A380s. One configuration has business and economy class on the upper deck, the other has only business class on the upper deck. In both configurations, the main deck consist of a mix of suites, premium economy and economy seats.
In addition, halving the number of suites to six makes more space available.
"The configuration has been determined not arbitrarily, but through understanding and expectations of the demand and supply," says Goh. "We believe this is optimal in terms of the number of seats in those cabin classes, for the markets that we deliver the aircraft to."
The airline will take the first of five new A380s on order in December, with the other four to be progressively delivered in 2018. The carrier has also said that it will return five early A380s to lessors, leaving it with 14 aircraft. These 14 aircraft will be retrofitted starting from late 2018.
Asked if the airline has plans for more A380s, Goh has this to say: "The fact that we ordered five more is actually a firm demonstration of our belief that the aircraft is going to be good for us. But we're not increasing the total number. We believe that 19 is sufficient because it’s a big aircraft that is good for dense routes that potentially could be slot limited, and that is exactly where we are deploying them."