SINGAPORE — Ten years ago shortly after Singapore Airlines took delivery of its first A380 jumbo jet, it made news by asking first-class passengers not to engage in sexual activities as the plane’s 12 private suites were not sound-proof.
The company may now have to reiterate the ban as it has introduced double seats that can be lowered to become double beds in business class in its new A380 aircraft. The new cabins are the result of four years of painstaking design and development, costing $850 million. Lying in the double beds, passengers can also enjoy an on-demand, personalized entertainment system that allows them to pick up programs where they left off in the last flight.
With such luxury, Singapore Airlines is aiming to attract more passengers and to stanch the slide in ticket prices amid stiff competition. The new aircraft will be flown on the Singapore-Sydney route starting December. Singapore Airlines has ordered five of these A380 planes, on top of 14 planes of the type already in operation. All existing planes will be retrofitted with the new design. These planes ply routes to 14 cities, including London, New York, Osaka, Beijing and Mumbai.
The first-class suites have also been improved. These rooms have now been expanded by nearly 70% to 4.65 sq. meters and each have a bed, a 32-inch touch screen, a desk and seat. They are the largest rooms in any plane, although Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has three-room suites dubbed “The Residence” fitted on its A380 airplanes.
But the reality of the tough global market can be seen in the new seating arrangements. Singapore Airlines’ new A380 cabin will have only six suites, down from the current 12. It is a reflection of the “demand pattern,” Chief Executive Goh Choon Phong said at the press launch on Thursday morning. Instead, economy class and premium economy class will be expanded and the total seat count will be increased to 471.