Business travellers rejoice: Singapore Airlines closes in on objective of offering lie flat product on all Australia flights

Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) upcoming product upgrade in Canberra and Perth are the first of several product upgrades for the Australia market.


Highlights

  • Singapore Airlines will soon have a lie flat business class product on all but four of its Australia flights;
  • Singapore Airlines may finally have an all lie flat product in the Australia market by the end of 2018;
  • Offering a consistent lie flat product is important for SIA to compete more effectively in Australia, particularly for Australia-Europe traffic.

Singapore Airlines currently offers a lie flat business class product with all-aisle access on all its flights to Brisbane and Sydney and most of its flights to Melbourne. However, most of SIA’s flights to Perth and all its flights to Adelaide and Canberra currently have an angled flat business class seat in a 2x2x2 configuration.

SIA is upgrading its only flight to Canberra on 1-May-2018 from 777-200s to 777-300ERs, resulting in the introduction of a lie flat business class product. SIA is upgrading one of its four daily flights to Perth on 9-May-2018 from A330-300s to 787-10s, also resulting in the introduction of a lie flat business class product. SIA currently has a lie flat business class product on only one of its four daily Perth flights.

The two upcoming upgrades will leave SIA with only four flights without a lie flat product. This includes two of its four daily flights to Perth, one of its five daily flights to Melbourne and its only daily flight to Adelaide.

Offering a lie flat product on all Australia flights is a long-time SIA objective as it results in a more consistent and more competitive product. For example, Middle Eastern competitors now offer a lie flat seat on both sectors in the Australia-Europe market, while the SIA product on the Australia-Singapore leg is not consistently lie flat. Several Asian competitors also offer a consistent lie flat product from Australia.

For example, in the Perth-Europe market SIA competes against Emirates, Etihad and Qatar – and soon Qantas. Emirates, Etihad and Qatar have a lie flat seat on both sectors while Qantas will have a lie flat product on its new nonstop from Perth to London.

SIA could potentially upgrade all Australia flights to lie-fat by the end of 2018 as it has the order book to make this happen and Australia is high on the priority list for the new 787-10 fleet because Australia is a strategically important market.

While so far SIA has only announced the introduction of the 787-10 on one Perth flight, it would be sensible for SIA to introduce the 787-10 on all four Perth flights by the end of 2018. SIA has the delivery stream to support such an upgrade, which would result in a more consistent product for the Perth market.

SIA may instead opt to use a mix of regional A350-900s and 787-10s in the Perth market – which would also result in a consistent product as the regional A350s are expected to have the same business lie flat business class seat as the 787-10. SIA plans to take delivery of its first regional A350-900 in 2H2018.

SIA also has the delivery stream to upgrade Adelaide to 787-10s or regional A350-900s. Adelaide would require only one aircraft as Adelaide is served with only one daily flight.

Upgrading the last Melbourne flight may be a bit trickier because from early May-2018 this flight will continue onto Wellington, where there are runway restrictions. However, the regional A350-900 could be a potential solution.

Even once all the Australia flights are upgraded to lie-flat, there will be some product variation as SIA uses its long-haul fleet on approximately two thirds of its Australia flights. However, the upgrade in the regional product to lie flat with the 787-10 (and regional A350-900) will significantly narrow the gap between the regional and long haul premium products.

The long-haul fleet (the A380, 777-300ER and current version of the A350-900) has a more spacious business class product and provides a premium economy option. However, for most business and corporate passengers the new regional lie-flat product should be sufficient.