Singapore Airlines is the gold standard for airlines a leader in innovation both in the cabin and in new aircraft.
This week its re-launches the word’s longest flight from Singapore to New York with the A350-900ULR but that is just the tip of the extraordinary transformation that the airline is once again going through.
Almost every ten years the airline reinvents itself and in doing so reinvents travel.
In the process, its choices in aircraft make and break airframe manufacturers as its evaluation process is one of the industry’s most demanding.
Its demand for Singapore to London non-stop launched the Boeing 747-400, its rejection of the planned fixes for range shortfall of the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 killed that design in the early 90s, while its later rejection of the A340-300 in 1999 in favor of more Boeing 777s was a savage blow to Airbus.
The airline was the first to introduce the A380, and among the first major buyers of the 787 and A350 and has also ordered 777X.
And in the cabin SIA has led the airline industry for years with such innovations as free drinks and headsets back in the late 1960s, satellite phones in 1991, seatback videos for all passengers in 1995 and audio/ video on demand in 2001.
And the actual cabins themselves, over the past year, have had a dramatic makeover.
The flagship of the upgrade is the new A380s delivered from Airbus with stunning new first suites, business class, and premium economy.
Singapore Airlines expects to roll out new cabin products to its entire 20-strong – Airbus A380 fleet by 2020 as part of a $1.2 billion upgrade across its planes, aimed at reinforcing its industry leadership.
The new cabins come 10 years after SIA operated the first A380 scheduled service and are in a four-class configuration with six suites and 78 business class seats on the upper deck as well as 343 economy seats and 44 premium economy seats on the lower deck.
The upgrade is the culmination of four years’ work involving extensive customer research, customer focus groups and a partnership with designers and manufacturers.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) chief executive Goh Phoon Phong told Airlineratings.com editor Steve Creedy last year that the airline was committed to new products and a long-term approach to retaining its industry leadership position. He said this the big investment demonstrated the airline’s confidence in the future of premium full-service air travel.
“We are confident that the result will genuinely wow our customers,’’ he said.
And he is right – the impact is wow!
Part of the new makeover is the airline’s new Boeing 787-10s which feature a new lie-flat regional business class.
In the longer term, the Singapore Airlines long-haul routes will be operated by A380s, 777-300ERs and the new A350s with the recently delivered 787-10s looking shorter range flights.
After 2020, the airline will take delivery of the 777X which will replace its 777-300ERs.