News Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines will fit all 12 of its A380s with new cabin products

SIA will fly a consistent cabin product on its A380s after all, with the airline confirming to Mainly Miles that its remaining four aircraft with the older seats will be decked out in the latest fit.

There’s been plenty of negative news lately when it comes to the future shape and size of Singapore Airlines after COVID-19, including a recent fleet review that concluded 26 of the group’s aircraft were surplus to requirements and would not be rejoining the fleet.

That included seven of the carrier’s older Airbus A380s, reducing the fleet from 19 to 12 aircraft as the carrier rebuilds its operation over the coming years.

In some rare positive news, the airline has confirmed to Mainly Miles that all 12 of its future Airbus A380 fleet will boast the new 2017 cabin products, with the fourth refit currently underway and three more in the pipeline.

The new A380 Suites cabin. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

That means the airline will ultimately boast a consistent product offering on its superjumbos, though it may mean we have seen the last of the older Suites and Business Class products, which now look unlikely to re-enter service.

It will also mean SIA coming good on its original promise to refit all its A380s with the new seats, a programme originally proposed for completion on 14 older aircraft by the end of 2020.

ADVERTISEMENT

Eight aircraft have been refitted

There had been a report that nine aircraft were already sporting the new seats, however Singapore Airlines confirmed to Mainly Miles that the current total remains at eight.

“As of 13 November 2020, SIA has eight A380s that have been installed with the new cabin products.”

SIA Spokesperson

These are the eight we already knew about, comprising five aircraft newly delivered in 2017/18 and three refitted aircraft – 9V-SKT, -SKS and -SKN.

Indeed we toured (and dined on) 9V-SKN, the most recently refitted jet, during the Restaurant A380 @Changi event in late October 2020, with a brand new and practically flawless cabin.

Here’s a list of the current A380 fleet.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is A388-Label-Small.png
Aircraft Current
Location
Version Age
(years)
9V-SKF SIN V1 12.7
9V-SKG SIN V1 12.0
9V-SKH SIN V1 11.9
9V-SKI SIN V1 11.8
9V-SKJ SIN V1 11.8
9V-SKK ASP V1 11.2
9V-SKL SIN V2 10.3
9V-SKM SIN V2 10.3
9V-SKN SIN V3
(refitted)
10.0
9V-SKP ASP V2 9.4
9V-SKQ ASP V2 9.1
9V-SKR SIN V2 9.2
9V-SKS SIN V3
(refitted)
8.9
9V-SKT ASP V3
(refitted)
8.8
9V-SKU SIN V3 3.6
9V-SKV SIN V3 3.4
9V-SKW ASP V3 3.1
9V-SKY ASP V3 2.8
9V-SKZ ASP V3 2.7

ASP – Alice Springs Airport
SIN – Singapore Changi Airport

9V-SKM is next

Singapore Airlines confirmed to us that 9V-SKM, a 10-year-old aircraft, is currently undergoing its cabin refit with the 2017 products at Changi.

“The ninth aircraft (9V-SKM) [will be] completing its cabin retrofit soon.”

SIA Spokesperson

9V-SKM last flew on 22nd March 2020. We don’t know when its retrofit work started, however it’s probably reasonable to assume it was after 9V-SKN’s refit was completed in late June 2020.

9V-SKM, pictured here landing at Zurich Airport in March 2016, will become the fourth refitted A380 in the SIA fleet. (Photo: Peter Gronemann)

Refits seem to take around eight months, so it could be into 2021 before we see SKM take its post-maintenance test flight in the new configuration, not that it will be returning to service any time soon given the current market outlook.

Cabin refits are completed in Singapore and take around eight months. (Photo: SIAEC)

As we highlighted earlier this week, Singapore Airlines has removed Suites and First Class cabin availability for revenue and award booking until 31st October 2021, making it unlikely we will see the A380s return to service over the next year or so.

All 12 aircraft will get the new seats

The most exciting part of the news is not only that there will be nine aircraft with the new cabin products installed, but that the entire future A380 fleet will eventually be kitted out with the latest fit.

“We plan to retrofit an additional three more aircraft following 9V-SKM.”

SIA Spokesperson

You read it here first – that means all 12 of SIA’s Airbus A380 aircraft returning to service after COVID-19 will have the latest cabin products installed eventually, based on the current plan.

This is likely because the seat products themselves, which make up over half the cost of each retrofit, had already been ordered and potentially reached a late stage of manufacture, meaning SIA had to pay for them anyway.

Fun fact: High quality and heavily customised airline seat products don’t come cheap, costing in the region of:

  • Suites: US$500k – US$1m
  • Business: US$150k – US$300k
  • Premium: US$15k
  • Economy: US$5k
Thats per seat, in case you’re wondering!

The Version 3 A380s have the highest density across the airline’s three current variants, with total capacity for 471 passengers.

  Version 1 Version 2 Version 3
Suites 12 12 6
Business 60 86 78
Premium Economy 36 36 44
Economy 333 245 343*
Total 441 379 471

* Refitted Version 3 aircraft have a slightly different seating layout in Economy Class, though the same total capacity is achieved.

Which aircraft will stay?

This news confirms that 9V-SKM forms part of the future fleet of 12 A380s in Singapore Airlines, and it’s certain that the eight delivered or refitted with the new cabins will be staying.

Unfortunately we don’t know which the remaining three aircraft are, though it seems logical that the Version 2 to Version 3 retrofit is the simplest to administer, and Version 1 aircraft are likely too old to have enough useful life left to justify the refit cost (SIA tends to keep aircraft only to around 15 years of age).

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s therefore likely that 9V-SKF to -SKK will be retired, all six in the Version 1 fleet, plus one Version 2 aircraft, which will not be refitted.

2017 Suites

The biggest selling point of the newly configured A380s is the latest Suites cabin, relocated to the forward upper deck with a capacity of just six, three either side of a central aisle.

Two of the Suite pairs (1A/2A and 1F/2F) can combine to form a double suite if you are travelling with someone else.

New A380 double suite. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

You can read our review of the double suite on a flight from Singapore to Hong Kong in 2018 below.

Although Singapore Airlines stopped short of installing showers in the new A380 fit, there are two large washrooms at the front of the cabin, one of which is so big it has its own separate vanity area.

Vanity desk in the Singapore Airlines new A380 washroom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

2017 Business Class

Another great advantage of the new Singapore Airlines A380 cabins is the excellent Business Class product, our favourite in the fleet, with 78 of these seats making up the rest of the upper deck in a 1-2-1 layout.

There’s the option at the middle seat pairs to retract the divider for couples travelling together, who also benefit from a ‘double bed’ at the three bulkhead positions at rows 11, 91 and 96.

Business Class double bed on the new A380. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Premium Economy Class

Premium Economy gets the biggest capacity boost in the new A380 layout, occupying the former Suites cabin at the front of the main deck where there are a total of 44 seats in a 2-4-2 layout (instead of 36 seats before).

Each seat is 19.5 inches wide, with eight-inch recline and seat pitch of 38 inches.