Singapore Airlines will invest about $850 million to roll out new cabin products for its fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft.
The new products, unveiled at a media launch in Singapore, will enter service next month on the first of five new A380s joining its fleet. Retrofit work will also take place on its 14 existing aircraft, for product consistency across the type.
The new A380s will have 471 seats in four classes, up to 92 seats more than the two configurations on its existing superjumbos. The first configuration features 441 seats (12 suites, 60 business class, 36 premium economy and 333 economy), while the second configuration has 379 seats (12 suites, 86 business class, 36 premium economy and 245 economy seats).
The new configuration will see the number of suites drop to six, while business class will have 78 seats. Both classes will be on the upper deck. The number of premium economy seats will meanwhile go up to 44, joining the 343 economy seats on the aircraft's main deck.
Each suite is furnished with a separate full-flat bed and a leather chair that can swivel up to 270 degrees. The improved business class meanwhile has a centre divider that can be fully lowered to form double beds - the first time SIA is offering such an option in the class.
The first new A380 is scheduled to enter commercial service on 18 December on the Singapore-Sydney route. The other four new aircraft will be delivered progressively in 2018. Retrofit work on its existing A380s will start in late 2018 with a target for completion in 2020.
Asked about the new configuration and the fewer suites on the aircraft, SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong says the decision was based on a combination of a better use of space, as well as demand patterns SIA has observed among A380 passengers.
He adds that the product launch follows an extensive four-year development programme that includes customer research, focus groups, and partnerships with designers.
"In order to bring the best to customers, we knew we had to address a fundamental point, which is understanding customers' evolving expectations," he says, adding that the underlying theme in the new product is providing more space, greater privacy and more attention to personal needs.
"The airline business is highly competitive. Singapore Airlines remains steadfast in our philosophy of constant product innovation and the relentless pursuit of excellence," says Goh.
"Today's launch signifies our continued investment in product 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."