Singapore Airlines' new regional business class for Boeing 787-10, Airbus A350

By David Flynn, April 6 2016

Singapore Airlines' next-generation business class seat for its Boeing 787-10 fleet will be "a brand new seat design showcasing new materials and technologies" and will also be fitted to a future tranche of Airbus A350-900 jets.

The seat will be designed and supplied by Stelia Aerospace – a company with an unfamiliar name but plenty of experience, as it was formed by last year's merger of Sogerma and Aerolia and is fully owned by Airbus.

The Singaporean flag-carrier is the global launch customer for the Boeing 787-10, a super-stretched version of the Dreamliner designed to carry more passengers than its siblings – estimated to be around 300 in a three-class layout – but over a shorter distance than even the original Boeing 787-8.

A new regional business class?

30 of the Boeing 787-10s will join some of SQ's Airbus A350-900 jets in creating a modernised 'regional' fleet for flights of around eight hours, which will include Australia and the Asia-Pacific circle.

According to Stelia the new business class seats will debut "on regional routes from 2018".

In January 2016 a Singapore Airlines executive confirmed plans for a medium-range Airbus A350 to Australian Business Traveller, potentially with less emphasis on premium seating than the first ten 10 A350-900s to be delivered this year.

First impressions: Singapore Airlines' Airbus A350 business class

"The medium-range configuration will not be too different from what we have for long-haul" said Singapore Airlines regional vice-president Mr Tiow Kor Tan, who added that "eventually all (of Singapore Airlines) A330s will be replaced with the A350 medium-haul aircraft in 2017-18-19"

Read: Singapore Airlines confirms Airbus A350 'medium-range' config

Reflecting passenger demands on the relatively shorter flights of up to eight hours, the medium-range A350s are likely to see fewer business class seats and a larger economy cabin.

SQ's new seats and suites

The Stelia announcement is also notable for the fact that it cites only Singapore Airlines' regional fleet and not the flagship Airbus A380, which we know is getting new business class seats alongside new first class suites from 2017.

Read: New Singapore Airlines A380 first class, business class in 2017

Also in the mix is the ultra-long range A350 due from 2018, which the airline has also said would be fitted with an 'all-new' business class.

That ultra-long range A350, for which Singapore Airlines is to date the sole customer, will fly non-stop from Singapore to Los Angeles and New York, fitted with around 170 seats compared to just over 250 passengers in SQ's 'standard' A350-900.

Singapore Airlines CEO Mr Goh Choon Phong last year told Australian Business Traveller that unlike the 'all business class’ model of SQ's previous non-stop Airbus A340 flights, the layout for the long-legged jets "will probably be more than just business class, I think it will be a mix of cabin classes."

This is likely to see a mostly business class configuration bookended by small first class and premium economy cabins.

More great Airbus A350 reads on Australian Business Traveller

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David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

QF

04 Oct 2012

Total posts 2

Hi David,

Please confirm that these seats will be fully flat.

This is the most important question that Australian fliers will be asking, as SQ's current mediium haul is very poor against the QF, CX & even BA offerings.

 From the photo used it looks similar to the current long haul but maybe with a smaller seat pitch.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2341

1. The photo is of the current SQ business class (on the Boeing 777, also seen on the A350), and it's used merely for illustrative purposes, because no photos of the new seat have been released;

2. We don't have any more information on the configuration, eg fully-flat or not - if we did have such, it would have been included in the article.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

"Please confirm that these seats will be fully flat."

Oh yeah, I bet they will be.  The only question is whether they'll be: 1) Inclined lie-flat(a.k.a. ski slope or current SQ regional route std) or

2) horizontal lie-flat or

3) horizontal lie-flat with direct aisle access for every seat(i.e. SQ's current longhaul std)

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

06 Feb 2014

Total posts 70

I   agree    with   JohnH,  if   they  are    not   full   flat  seats ,  they   will  lose  a   Big    chunk  of  Business   class   passengers ,  as    most  other  airlines,  including  the   Chinese  carriers   are offering   lie   flat  seats. I    hope   that    the  management   at  SQ  realise  this.  Also   they   need   to  understand   that   Melbourne  Singapore   maybe     medium   haul  ,  but   alot  of  fliers    are   connecting    to  Europe   so  lie   flat  seats   are    a   must.   

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

I think SQ, unlike most of its non-AU competitors, has been in a tricky situation re what J seat std to use on AU routes.  Per SQ network definition(Actually also the typical industry definition worldwide), 8hrs block time is the dividing line between medium-haul(i.e. Regional in SQ-speak) and longhaul.  Unfortunately except PER,  almost all SQ routes to/fm AU hover just slightly above or below the 8hrs mark.

In contrast, all CX routes except PER+CNS are clearly beyond 8hrs block time.  Similar story re all Chinese carriers, let alone the Gulf Big3.  As a joke, I refer to the situation as the curse of SIN being too close to AU....

Fm SQ(Actually any carrier) fleet product planning perspective, inclined lie-flat J seat is a more than reasonable std for most SQ regional routes with block times from 1hr(e.g. SIN-KUL) upto 6-7hrs(e.g. SIN-KIX).  Actual cruise duration for such routes allows  no more than a few hrs of nap(e.g. below 30mins on SIN-KUL) @ best and difficult to justify the significantly higher cost(And inevitably higher fare) for a full blown horizontal lie-flat J product.

So 1 way or the other, there's no question SQ will still need a regional J product that's NOT horizontal lie-flat.  The only question is whether to use such regional J on AU routes.  And by observations over the yrs, SQ's answer to that question has been to deploy horizontal lie-flat J only for AU routes with the highest J traffic demand/yield AND competition such as SYD+MEL while routes with lower demand/yield AND competition such as BNE, ADL, CBR(Actually, no competitor in this city) get regional J.  I don't think this split deployment approach by SQ will change in the future.

I don't know why but I see a possibility where SQ may want to seriously up the game even in its shortest route by going to horizontal lie-flat but withOUT direct aisle access(e.g. 6abreast) for regional J.  This will be a compromise solution for SQ to address the tricky situation on AU routes.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 582

I believe CBR will have fully lie flat 1-2-1 seating on their refitted 77Es

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 514

I know a very late reply here. But for the record, Canberra is getting 2-2-2 in business, eg their regional product. 1-2-1 is their long haul 772 product.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

06 Feb 2014

Total posts 70

Excellent analysis of the Flat seat dilemma facing SQ Flex, and you are probably right, but the fact remains that the business class flier has become very discerning when it comes to paying for a seat. Whether they are flights out of Brisbane , Adelaide or Sydney they now want a lie flat seat with all the trimmings. If Cx offers this and SQ does not , guess who gets my business!

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

"...they now want a lie flat seat..."

Specifically, I believe U meant horizontal lie flat seat.  The worst J seat spec deployed by SQ on any AU route is already a lie flat(Although inclined lie flat).

"If Cx offers this and SQ does not , guess who gets my business"

Frankly I don't know.  This is mainly because SQ offers the so-called SQ gal magic and CX does not.  According to so many readers of this site, the SQ cabin service is superior & is a legend without peers on earth and the reason why they'll always prefer SQ over any other carrier @ all cost(Including slightly inferior cabin products).

For the record, despite having flown/experienced SQ more than a few times, I personally don't really buy that SQ myth.  It is very very good but not exactly without peers.  I speculate many folks here still buy that myth mainly because SQ op is relatively big in AU.  A few other smaller foreign players in AU(But much bigger in other mkts) in my experience are @ least as good as SQ such as OZ and NH(Both are SkyTrax 5* rated same as SQ).


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