PREVIOUS | The countdown clock is ticking towards the launch of Singapore Airlines' all-new first class, business class, premium economy and even economy seats for its flagship Airbus A380 fleet this coming Thursday November 2.
It's a 'big bang' event for the Star Alliance member, with all four cabin classes due to grace the airline's latest order of five factory-fresh superjumbos – the first of which will begin daily flights between Singapore and Sydney from December 18 2017 as SQ221/SQ232.
The seats will also be fitted to most of the airlines' existing A380s, save for the five original jets which were taken under lease and will be replaced by the newest superjumbos (SQ's 'first five' are expected to be offered as private VIP jets).
All of the airline's current Airbus A380 seats made their debut a decade ago, when the Singaporean flag-carrier was the worldwide launch customer for the superjumbo – which also debuted on the Singapore-Sydney route in October 2007.
In first class, Singapore Airlines will reveal luxe suites...
... which are substantially larger than their 2007-era siblings, seen below...
... although there will also be fewer first class cribs in the new and revamped A380s, with six suites compared to a dozen today.
The first class cabin has also been relocated to the A380's upper deck and designed around a wide centre aisle, rather than the conventional twin-aisle layout – a layout pioneered by Etihad Airways on its own superjumbos.
Etihad's A380 first class apartments are of course the suites to beat in the battle for first class, and Singapore Airlines' own launch will come less than two weeks ahead of the launch of Emirates' new Boeing 777 first class suites at the Dubai Air Show, which commences on Sunday November 12.
Emirates CEO Tim Clark has described the suites – of which there'll be six, in a two-row 1-1-1 layout – as "fully enclosed rooms with all the touches and amenities that you’d expect in hotel or a private bedroom on a luxury yacht, room service and so on."
Is Singapore Airlines up to the challenge?
Much of that rides on Jacques Pierrejean, from French firm Pierrejean Design Studios, who has crafted the new SQ suites.
Pierrejean made his name designing luxury yachts and interiors for private and commercial aircraft, including Emirates' own A380 first class (which he's shown with, below) and business class – to the Airbus Corporate Jet centre and concept VIP versions of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
'Blue sky' mock-ups made as part of his firm's successful tender for the prestigious assignment – which are unlikely to reflect the finished suites in reality but could contain elements of the overall style and finish – reimagined the upper deck with a lobby-style entrance and standing bar...
... which connected to what appears to be either a first class dining room or a Singapore Airlines' version of Etihad's The Residence.
Less is known about the new business class seats, which may take some cues from the airline's Boeing 777-300ER business class product (below).
Those seats will stretch all the way to the superjumbo's tail, with 78 seats in a 1-2-1 layout divided into three cabins of 50 seats, 20 seats and just eight seats – allowing Singapore Airlines to create a 'premium' upper deck dedicated to its highest-paying passengers.
Indications are that the airline has not opted for any form of social space – similar perhaps to what Qantas plans to do for its own Airbus A380 fleet – nor of course showers or a bar, a là Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways.
The A380's lower deck will be given over to 44 premium economy seats at the front (in a 2-4-2 arrangement) where first class sits today, followed by economy seating.
And in 2018...
The new business class and premium economy seats are also expected to be fitted to Singapore Airlines' ultra-long range Airbus A350-900ULR fleet, with which the airline will re-launch direct flights from Singapore to New York and Los Angeles starting from the second half of 2018.
However, the long-legged jets are tipped to forego economy class in favour of an 'all-premium' configuration.
Before the A350-900ULRs take wing, Singapore Airlines is expected in early 2018 to pull back the curtains on its new regional business class seats bound for the Boeing 787-10 – although Australian Business Traveller has already scooped those seats (below) which will adopt the Stelia Opal design for a forward-facing staggered 1-2-1 layout.
Singapore Airlines will reveal its full set of new Airbus A380 seats at an invitation-only event being held on Thursday November 2 at Singapore's Suntec Convention Centre, which Australian Business Traveller will be attending as a guest of the airline.
The launch begins at 9.45am Singapore time – that's 12.45pm in Sydney and Melbourne – with an opening address by Singapore Airlines CEO Mr Goh Choon Phong , who will then unveil the new cabin products to an eager assembled throng of media from around the world.
One hour later – from 10.45am – we'll get up close with the new suites and seats.