By Bjorn Fehrm
December 13, 2017, ©. Leeham Co, Toulouse: Singapore Airlines took delivery of its first new generation A380 today in Toulouse. The aircraft features new cabins in all four classes, First-, Business-, Premium economy- and Economy class.
The aircraft is the first of five newly ordered A380. In addition, 14 of the present A380s will be upgraded to the new cabin standard.
Singapore was the first operator of the A380, accepting the first aircraft from Airbus a little over 10 years ago, in October 2007. The fleet expanded to 19 aircraft, of which the initial two are parked, having reached the end of their leases. These will be going to Hi Fly.
With the delivery of another four aircraft, the Singapore A380 fleet will stabilize at 19 aircraft after 14 A380s have gone through cabin refit.
We asked Singapore’s Executive VP of Commercial, Swee Wah Maak, about the present A380 fleet size and if any future orders would be coming.
“This is the right size fleet for us,” he said. “We use the A380 on our largest trunk routes and for the busiest departures of the day. The fleet of 19 A380 will serve us well and for the foreseeable future. The new A380s are the first with our new A380 cabin standard. Airbus and we will retrofit 14 of our present A380s to this high standard. We will spend $850m on this cabin change. It’s a significant upgrade for us, and shows how important a premium customer experience is for us on our flagship aircraft.”
After a general briefing on the A380, we were allowed to board the new A380. After our trying-out the new cabins, the aircraft would fly to Singapore and begin service on a Singapore-Sydney flight, Monday next week.
The partition of the aircraft into its four classes has improved. Where previously 443 seats fitted in four classes (12 First, 60 business, 38 Premium, 333 Economy), the new configuration (Figure 1) houses 471 seats, divided as:
We first entered the Premium economy area on the main deck. Nice seats (Figure 3), plenty of space and large IFE screens, but nothing special.
The same for the following Economy section. Plenty of space for an economy cabin and the latest seat type with large IFE screens and any imaginable charging plug. But this is standard today.
The business class can’t be labelled as standard. The seats are large, organized as mini-cabins with plenty of space. The author can be seen in a middle seat in Figure 2, enjoying the space.
The side seats use the new cupboard-free area for the foothold when sleeping. By it, more seats can be housed on the upper deck. As the passenger sits towards the aisle, there is no headroom problem with placing the seat closer to the sloping wall of the A380 upper deck, Figure 5.
The gem of the new A380 cabins is the First-class suites. The normal suites are configured as small studies when the beds are folded, Figure 6.
With the bed folded down for sleeping, the cabin still keeps the armchair, giving a spacious bedroom feeling. The forward cabins have their bedroom walls next to each other, making a two-bedroom suite possible when lowering the separation wall, Figure 7.
The new, more efficient, utilization of the A380 cabin space was made possible by a selection of the new A380 features presented at the Paris Air Show, under the A380plus label, Figure 8.
As the Singapore A380 deliveries are part of running orders, with close-in delivery dates, the more elaborate Plus features can’t be implemented.
That the new A380s can hold more seats than any previous Singapore version, despite new, -higher, seating standards, proves the A380’s flexibility in keeping up to date, according to Airbus.
Here’s a video:
Do they really fill all those business seats?
According to the article at the link below, Delta CEO Ed Bastian is proud of the fact that Delta has recently been giving away only half of its first class seats to frequent flyers, down from 85% a decade ago. Delta’s business model and clientele are far different from Singapore’s, so Delta’s first class sales stats might be completely different than Singapore’s. The same article also says that there are fewer of the fanciest suites on Singapore’s new A380’s. The following quote is from the article.
“A decade ago Delta would sell only about 15 percent of its first-class cabins and now between 50 and 60 percent is sold, Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, told reporters last month. He recently said it was too early to determine the percentage of business-class seats that are sold, because its revamped Delta One cabins are brand new.”
“Everybody loves a free something,” Bastian said at a conference a month earlier. “Any business where you give the majority of your best product away, it doesn’t work.”
The business suites are indeed very pricey compared to economy seats, but perhaps private jet charter or operating prices would be a more relevant comparison for the people who cough up the $$$$$$ for fancy suites. If you are an actor whose TV series just got canceled, a pop star whose last few records have not sold very well, an ageing (former?) sports star who just got cut from the team, or an investment genius whose hedge fund just went belly up, flying in fancy suites on scheduled flights instead of chartering private jets could be an excellent way to cut your expenses even though it may seem like a brutal austerity measure. Carrie Fisher, the actress who played Princess Lea in Star Wars movies, was flying on a commercial flight when she passed away.
According to the link below, a private jet charter from Los Angels to New York would typically run from $47,500 for a light jet (4 to 8 seats) to $73,000 for a large jet (9 to 19 seats), and from Los Angeles to Hong Kong the bill for a large jet would be $345,000. Makes the most expensive ticket a scheduled airline could even dream of dreaming up look frugal!
How many people are there who can afford such prices?
According to the following links, NetJets has 700 private jets in its fleet, and Delta private jets has 55.
I forgot to put in the the link to the first article that I referred to. Her eit is.
“Delta’s business model and clientele are far different from Singapore’s, so Delta’s first class sales stats might be completely different than Singapore’s.”
That’s clearly an understatement if for nothing else but the following 3 facts:
1. DL(including NW) hv not deployed a single F class seat capacity on any int’l route except within N.America and the northern part of S.America since over a decade ago…may be longer.
2. SQ offer F class only on int’l routes.
3. Not a shred of similarities between DL and SQ in terms of hard product specs for F.
“How many people are there who can afford such prices?”
Don’t know but clearly more than we can imagine especially for those ultra-rich clients based in China these days….
> 2. SQ offer F class only on int’l routes.
For SQ, every route is an international route…
Haha, maybe there’s a shorthaul flight from SIN to the airforce base nearby?
Bastian is talking about monetizing domestic First. The stat about 15% paid uptake of F in the past was for a recliner seat at the front of an A320, MD90 or 757.
Those domestic (and short haul recliner international) F seats are being sold now to ticket holders who bought economy, but visit the seatmap after booking and see ‘buy a seat in First for $xx’. xx may equal $65 or $195 or whatever revenue management thinks the premium will attract a good percent sold.
I don’t know that DL publishes their paid load factor in international Business/J class, but they don’t offer free upgrades and only very rarely sell J upgrades to ticketed Y travellers. (But nonrev passengers do backfill J once paid fares are checked in at departure).
All that said, those who point out that DL’s J cabin is not comparable to international First are correct. But neither is the info on Delta’s campaign to monetize their short/midhaul US-style ‘first’.
U bet they do. 78 J seats in this config is not a lot more than others considering:
1. EK already hv a very common J config with 76 seats for 380.
2. NH already hv a very common J config with 68 J seats for the even smaller 77W.
These birds are for the heaviest traffic, premium biz trunk routes on earth…
Given Singapore is a business destination, and the fact the A380 is used for trunk routes to other business destiations (ie. SYD, HKG, NRT, CDG, LHR) I’d wager yes.
Also: SG is very stingy on award space in F or J. They would rather a premium-cabin seat fly empty than release it as an award.
The first class suites look divine, but that economy class layout above in figure 1. reminds me of nothing but a slaver galley ship! LOL
Slaver galley ship ?
You mean its the same 10 across that the 747 has had since the early 70s.
I seem to remember they had a different name to you- Queen of the skies
“figure 1. reminds me of nothing but a slaver galley ship! ”
Does it also remind U that all 2-class seat maps on a single deck regardless of aircraft type look like that too?
At least “figure 1.” illustrates the most humane “slaver galley ship” currently in service against all other types.
Try a 10-across B777 or Ryanair B738 and you’ll have a whole new definition of “slave ship”
Yeah, what an inconvenience having to sit 10 a abrest. Perhaps try being on an actual “slave ship”…… first world issues eh!
Regarding seats designed for a shorter clientele, I’d imagine this is designed (ergonomics) to match the average size of Asian customers, who are usually shorter than Europeans for example. Perhaps they could have done a little more to capture a larger percentile to appease a greater group of the ‘taller’ customers.
Lucas: try it for yourself. It’s tight even for me, and I’m a skinny short Asian!
BA is reconfiguring their B777-200s to 10-across in World Traveller. UA, AA, and AC also have 10-across Econ in their B777-300ERs, and last I checked these weren’t Asian airlines…..
Phoenix… my comments regarding ergonomics were about Singapore Airlines are in Response to Rogers comments on A350 Premium economy.
Regarding a 10-abreast 777….. yes it’s not comfortable. Comfort has been driven out of most economy class cabins by airlines across the board. But to describe a 10 abreast seating layout as a slave galley is a bit too far. I don’t believe Slave ships had reclinable seats, let alone seats…
I flew SIA Premiumn Economy a few months ago on their A350, as well as regular economy on a connecting flight. The most bizarre thing is that the premium seats are designed for shorter people! In economy the headrest doesn’t quite reach my head but is supportive on the neck. The premium headrest didn’t even reach the base of my neck, so no support at all.
Hmm, are you a “Sitzriese” ? ( i.e. someone with proportionally short legs and long torso?)
I’m normally proportioned but am above average height. A travelling companion who is 5’10” / 1m78 also found the premium seats too “short”. I’m envisaging the premium department at SIA just happens to be staffed by shorter folks!
Single aisle 1st class in A380 dates from Ethihad. Not typically A380+ feature
Is the crew rest combined ? How many ULD positions does it leave ?
The crew rest is not combined, the pilots keep theirs behind the cockpit. I would assume it takes three LD6 positions.
That premium economy seat looks amazing compared to US offerings. Frankly, it looks better than Lufthansa. Certainly on par with Air New Zealand’s conventional offering.
I guess compared to the upper deck, it’s ‘meh’ but this is a so-called economy offering!
Airline blogger Sam Chui has posted a video of the delivery flight (the meal service was from Airbus catering so not representative of SQ’s product) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CrpWOY8bKE
Have you tested the BC seats in full flat mode? Is the current conversion into the full flat bed mode passe?
Need to correct your story – the Business Class seats are made by Jamco Corp., not Zodiac.