Singapore Airlines to introduce new regional business class product in May

14 February, 2018

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has selected Singapore-Osaka as the first regular route for its new medium haul business class product and new fleet of 787-10s with services commencing in May-2018. The new product is expected to be introduced on several Australia routes in 2H2018 and 2019 as the 787-10 fleet expands and new regional A350-900s are delivered to SIA.

SIA has 49 787-10s on order, the first of which will be delivered in late Mar-2018. SIA is the launch customer for the 787-10 and plans to only use the new aircraft type on regional routes within Asia Pacific.

SIA is configuring its 787-10s with 337 seats consisting of 36 lie flat business class seats and 301 economy seats. More details on the product will be announced in late Mar-2018 as the first aircraft is delivered. The first aircraft will be used temporarily on short hops from Singapore to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur for crew training purposes before being placed on the Singapore-Osaka route in May-2018.

SIA currently serves Singapore-Osaka daily with A330-300s. SIA configures its A330-300s with 285 seats including 30 angled flat business seats and 255 economy seats. The 787-10 therefore enables SIA to increase capacity by 18%, while improving its premium product.

Business class capacity will increase by 20%, while economy class capacity will increase by 18%. Efficiency improvements and a denser cabin should enable SIA to better compete for economy class passengers in Asia's intensely competitive market.

Offering a lie flat option is particularly important as Osaka is a relatively long flight of seven hours and operates overnight from Singapore. SIA low cost subsidiary Scoot launched nonstop flights from Singapore to Osaka in Dec-2017 and by offering a lie flat option the parent airline is able to better differentiate its product.

The 787-10 fleet along with a new sub-fleet of regional A350-900s will be used to replace A330-300s, 777-200s and 777-300s. SIA plans to begin taking regional A350-900s in 2H2018.

SIA has not yet announced a product or configuration for the regional A350-900 but they are expected to have the same premium product as the 787-10 and slightly fewer overall seats. SIA already operates 20 A350-900s in a 253-seat long-haul three-class configuration but its remaining 40 A350-900 orders will be split between additional long haul configured aircraft and the new regional configuration. (SIA also has seven A350-900ULRs on order which will be in a separate low density two density configuration featuring only business class and premium economy.)

The new 787-10 fleet and regional A350-900 sub-fleet will be introduced over the next few years on several routes within Asia Pacific including Australia. Singapore to Adelaide and Perth routes will likely be the first Australia routes to feature the new regional product as Adelaide is now served entirely with A330s and Perth is served with A330s and 777-200s.

Growth in SIA's regional network within Asia Pacific is also expected as SIA has more 787-10s and regional A350-900s on order than its current regional fleet. SIA's current regional fleet consists of 22 A330-300s, 11 777-200s and five 777-300s - all of which will be phased out over the next few years. Once the last of these aircraft are phased out, the entire SIA fleet will have a lie flat business class product, significantly improving the airline's position in the business and corporate segment.