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Bigger economy seats for SIA's A380s

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Singapore Airlines unveils new seats and in-flight products

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has revealed - as it unveiled new seats and in-flight products as part of a US$850 million (S$1.16 billion) investment - that its Airbus A-380s will carry more passengers in economy and premium economy than they do now.

The move is seen by industry analysts as an attempt to bolster profits amid a challenging environment that has dampened the demand for premium air travel, and serious competition from rival carriers like the Middle Eastern airlines - both of which have hit the bottom line.

SIA's chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong told The Straits Times yesterday that the decision to reconfigure was driven by a need to better match demand and supply.

Whatever the motivation, customer comfort and convenience will not be compromised, he said.

The new seats will be fitted on five new A-380s - the first will arrive next month - that SIA has ordered.

Each superjumbo aircraft will have a total of 471 seats - six ultra-first class suites, 78 in business class, 44 in the premium economy cabin and 343 economy seats.

SIA's current fleet of 18 A-380s has up to 441 seats each, including 333 in economy class.

They will be retrofitted from now until 2020 to ensure product consistency for customers.

After four years, SIA's much-awaited new products were unveiled at a media launch in Suntec City.

Mr Goh is confident that the upgrades across all four classes - aimed at providing "more space and privacy, and with more details to personal needs" and the first major product enhancements in about four years - will appeal to customers.

Economy passengers can expect more legroom and back support, with a six-way adjustable headrest, while an 11.1-inch touchscreen monitor eliminates the need for handsets.

Business class highlights include a full-length divider between centre seats, which can be converted into couple seats.

The new products will also feature the launch of myKrisWorld - a new in-flight entertainment system with interactive features that are an industry first, including content recommendations based on customer viewing history.

KrisFlyer members will also be able to bookmark content, as well as customise and save preferences on myKrisWorld, for subsequent flights.

The investments show SIA's commitment to continued investment in products and services, and its confidence in the future of premium full-service air travel, Mr Goh said.

But Endau Analytics founder Shukor Yusof said the airline should move away from focusing on the premium sector.

"The reality is, fewer people are likely to pay the stratospheric fares SIA is charging in all classes," he said.


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