SIA ramping up US capacity with non-stop flights
SINGAPORE Singapore Airlines (SIA) has no problem selling business-class tickets on its ultra-long non-stop flights to the US but is having to price premium economy seats very attractively, a senior executive said on Wednesday.
SIA last month resumed after five years the world's longest commercial flight, an almost 19-hour non-stop journey from Singapore to New York.
The airline ordered seven new ultra-long-range twin-engine Airbus SE A350-900ULRs fitted with just 67 business and 94 premium economy seats for those flights and for non-stop services to Los Angeles and San Francisco. These flights have no economy-class seats.
It represents a major expansion in the US for SIA and a test of whether it can charge the 20 per cent price premium typical for ultra-long non-stop services due to their popularity with business travellers.
SIA executive vice-president of commercial Mak Swee Wah said there was demand for business class, which he expected would continue to pick up.
He said that some markets were not"entirely familiar" with premium economy, which offers more leg room and other amenities than economy class.
"We need to continue to stimulate and encourage the market to consider this product, initially with very attractive pricing, but eventually, I think people will see that even at prices which we offer, it is a good product to purchase because it is a very long flight," he said.
SIA is offering premium economy fares as low as $1,698 return from Singapore to New York over part of the peak Christmas travel period, according to its website.
That is in line with economy class fares from rivals such as Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways and Dubai-based Emirates, which require a stop and a longer travel time. - REUTERS