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Singapore Airlines is about to begin a rolling revamp of its regional fleet with new Boeing 787-10 and Airbus A350 jets sporting an all-new regional business class seat in a 1-2-1 layout which converts into a fully-flat bed, shown below.
The airline will this week take delivery of the first of a planned 49 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners, to be followed later this year by a regional version of its Airbus A350 jets.
Both will adopt a two-class configuration with the new regional business class seats and economy, in the process dropping premium economy cabin.
"What we have found is that (premium economy) demand is particularly strong on long-haul routes," says Singapore Airlines CEO Mr Goh Choon Phong, "so as these aircraft are meant mainly for regional and medium-haul (routes) we find it more suitable to configure in two- class."
Goh confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that a tranche of A350 deliveries starting in the second half of this year would be fitted out in this regional configuration.
Singapore Airlines sees regional or medium-range routes as will be intended for medium-range flights of around eight hours – a scope which includes Australia and the Asia-Pacific circle.
Goh said that in addition to expanding the airline's regional network to new destinations the Boeing 787-10s would "also replace the older Boeing 777s including the 777-200, and also some Airbus A330s because all the A330s we have are on lease."
When the first regional Airbus A350s arrive "we will also do some A330 replacement," Goh said, although he suggested the airline might continue leasing some of the A330s depending on market conditions.
"The about the lease arrangement is that it gives us flexibility – there is always the possibility for us to extend the lease, so if the market situation looks good we then we will exercise that flexibility."
Goh also flagged the possibility of converting some of the airline's 49 orders for the Boeing 787-10 to the smaller but longer-range Boeing 787-9.
"The intention for the 787-10 is medium-haul but we do have the flexibility to convert some of the orders to either the -8 or -9" he told Australian Business Traveller ahead of the delivery flight of the airline's first Boeing 787-10 from Boeing's South Carolina facility.
David Flynn travelled to South Carolina as a guest of Singapore Airlines