Singapore Airlines achieves 100% lie-flat target for Australia and New Zealand markets

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has set a 1-Nov-2019 date for transitioning to an all lie-flat operation in Australia and New Zealand, providing a consistent business class product that corporate customers have long been advocating.

The airline announced on 20-Aug-2019 that its four times weekly Singapore-Melbourne-Wellington service will be upgraded from Boeing 777-200s to Airbus A350-900s effective 1-Nov-2019, resulting in lie-flat seats for all flights to and from Australia.

SIA had announced earlier this month the upgrade of the last of its four daily Perth flights from A330-300s to 787-10s effective 1-Oct-2019. SIA upgraded in 2018 and early 2019 its other three Perth flights from A330s or 777s to A350s or 787s.

Of the 151 weekly frequencies SIA currently operates from Singapore to Australia and New Zealand the seven A330 Perth frequencies and four 777-200 Melbourne/Wellington frequencies are the only remaining flights with angled flat seats.

SIA’s Australia 100% lie-flat announcement does not come as a surprise as the airline has been in the process of transitioning to an all lie-flat product across its entire network. The Blue Swan Daily and CAPA have previously analysed how SIA was poised to become the first airline globally to be 100% lie-flat across both narrowbody and widebody aircraft.

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Australia is a priority in SIA’s 100% lie-flat initiative and is therefore completing the transition before other parts of the network. Brisbane became all lie-flat in Jan-2018, Canberra in May-2018 and Adelaide in Dec-2018.  Brisbane is currently served with four daily A350-900 flights, including three with regional A350s and one with long haul A350s. Adelaide is served daily with regional A350-900s and Canberra daily with 777-300ERs.

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Sydney is served with five daily flights using a combination of A380s and 777-300ERs, including the 777-300ER flight that stops in Canberra on the return sector. In addition to the four weekly flights that continue to Wellington, Melbourne is served with four daily flights using A380s, 777-300ERs and long haul A350-900s.

In New Zealand, SIA currently serves Auckland daily with 777-300ERs and Christchurch daily with long haul A350-900s along with the four weekly flights to Wellington via Melbourne. SIA has additional capacity to Auckland and Christchurch in the southern summer months.

SIA has angled flat seats in 2x2x2 configuration on 777-200s and A330-300s, which are being phased out over the next couple of years. It introduced in 2018 a new lie-flat regional business class seat with all aisle access on regional A350-900s and 787-10s. Both aircraft types have the same seat but neither have premium economy. Long haul A350-900s, A380s and 777-300ERs have different (wider) lie-flat seats – but in the same 1x2x1 all-aisle configuration –and premium economy.

The airline introduced premium economy in the Christchurch market in Jan-2019 as it transitioned from 777-200ERs, which have all-aisle lie-flat seats but no premium economy, to long haul A350-900s.

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SIA already had premium economy on all Auckland flights and will have premium economy on all New Zealand flights from 1-Nov-2019 because of this planned aircraft switch on Singapore-Melbourne-Wellington. Premium economy will also be available on all Melbourne flights following this upgrade.

While premium economy is already available on all Sydney and Canberra flights, it is not available on any Adelaide or Perth flight and is only available on one of the four Brisbane flights. This is not ideal for corporates, particularly companies with premium economy travel policies, although the 100% lie-flat product in business will be appreciated by corporate customers.

Premium economy is also not available from Cairns and Darwin as SIA operates these routes using SilkAir’s 737-800s. SilkAir is folding into SIA as lie-flat seats are introduced on 737-800s and 737 MAX 8s from 2020. Cairns and Darwin, which were both recently upgraded to daily, are expected to be among SIA/SilkAir’s first lie-flat narrowbody routes, making its entire Australia/New Zealand operation lie-flat by 2021.