- All-new Airbus A380 business class launches mid-2017
- Most of SQ's older A380s to be upgraded
- Staggered 'regional business class' tipped for future Airbus A350s, Boeing 787-10
Singapore Airlines will launch not one but two new business class seats in the next 18 months across its Airbus A380, Airbus A350 and Boeing 787-10 fleets.
The move will see the Singaporean flag-carrier move towards lie-flat beds across its fleet, including regional flights which currently rely on an angled business class seat.
Here's how the 'business class blitz' will play out.
Singapore Airlines declined to comment on its forthcoming business class plans when approached by Australian Business Traveller, with the Star Alliance member understandably keen to not give away clues in this increasingly competitive space.
Singapore Airlines new business class for 2017: Airbus A380, A350ULR
First up will be a new business class seat for the Airbus A380, which the Star Alliance member will reveal in mid-2017 alongside its new A380 first class suites.
Expected to springboard from today's Boeing 777-300ER 'Next Generation' business class – shown below, and which Singapore Airlines launched in July 2013 – the new seats have said to have already been showcased to selected top-tier KrisFlyer travellers to fine-tune more practical aspects of the design.
It's tipped that a revised layout for the new Airbus A380s – the first of which is slated to debut in October, to mark the superjumbo's 10th anniversary – could see first class relocated to the upper deck, with business class then stretching all the way to the tail to create a 'premium deck.'
One source tells Australian Business Traveller that Singapore Airlines also gave consideration to a small lounge area – although not a bar per se – nestled into the rear of the upper deck.
In addition to installing the new first class and business class onto five factory-fresh A380s due from October 2017, Singapore Airlines will also haul most of its current superjumbos back into the hangar to upgrade their 2006-era suites and seats (below).
(Five A380s which SQ leased rather than bought will be returned to Airbus.)
This same business class seat will also appear on a new ultra-long range version of the Airbus A350 due in 2018, which Singapore Airlines will use to restart non-stop flights from Singapore to Los Angeles, New York and a third as-yet-unnamed US destination.
According to Airbus the A350-900ULR will be fitted with only around 170 seats, compared to 253 in SQ's standard mid-range A350; the long-legged jetliner will fly in a two-class configuration, which is almost certain to be business class and premium economy.
Singapore Airlines’ A350-900ULR is also expected to deliver the full Airspace experience of Airbus’ new-wave cabin design (show below).
Singapore Airlines new business class for 2018: Airbus A350 regional, Boeing 787-10
Ironically, while its Airbus A350ULR takes wing in 2018 to reclaim the "world's longest flight" crown, Singapore Airlines will also pull back the curtains on another new business class seat – one intended for shorter regional runs.
In Singapore Airlines parlance, regional or medium-range flights are those up to eight hours: a span which encompasses all of its Australian services.
The seat will showcase an all-new business class design from Airbus-owned cabin interiors specialist Stelia Aerospace, with Singapore Airlines believed to be favouring a staggered configuration – similar to that of the Qantas Business Suite, among many others – where each seat dovetails into the ones in front and behind.
The new seat will be a fully lie-flat design, unlike the airline's current and dated regional business class seat (below), which pushes back into an angled 'sloping sleeper' with a 172 degree recline.
Singapore Airlines will fit the Stelia seat to both the Boeing 787-10 and a regional version of the Airbus A350 from 2018.
The Singaporean flag-carrier is the worldwide launch customer for the 787-10 – a stretched, higher-headcount but shorter-range version of the Dreamliner, with a two-class capacity of 330 passengers against 290 for the 787-9.
30 of the Boeing 787-10s will join a tranche of A350s – the exact number isn't known, but the regional models will be drawn from a 40-strong order book on top of the first 20 A350s – in updating Singapore Airlines' regional fleet to a modern, fuel-efficient and passenger-friendly operation.
In January 2016 Singapore Airlines regional vice-president Mr Tiow Kor Tan confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that "eventually all (of Singapore Airlines) A330s will be replaced with the A350 medium-haul aircraft in 2017-18-19."
There has been speculation – so far unconfirmed and potentially unfounded – that the regional Airbus A350 and Boeing 787-10 jets could drop premium economy and revert to a two-class layout of business class and economy.