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What SIA’s fleet cuts mean for First and Business Class cabin products

Nine of Singapore Airlines' First and Business Class products have been whittled down to just five following a fleet and network review.

Over the last few months Singapore Airlines has completed a fleet and network review that, somewhat understandably given the ongoing COVID-19 situation, has resulted in confirmation that many of its older aircraft will not re-enter service even as the carrier scales up operations once border controls are relaxed and travel demand returns.

In terms of the passenger experience, this means we’ve already said what seems like a premature farewell to four seat types in the fleet, though it’s fair to say not all will be mourned.

What happened?

In early November 2020, Singapore Airlines announced significant write downs on its older aircraft as part of its half-year annual results, with 26 jets across the group not returning to the fleet after COVID-19.

These comprised:

  • 7 Airbus A380s
  • 4 Boeing 777-200 / -200ERs
  • 4 Boeing 777-300s (non-ERs)
  • 9 Airbus A320s (5 SilkAir, 4 Scoot)
  • 2 Airbus A319s (SilkAir)
Seven of SIA’s older Airbus A380 aircraft are not returning to the active fleet post-COVID. (Photo: Peter Gronemann)

In addition, the airline had already revealed in previous results announcements it would not be extending operating leases on its remaining Airbus A330-300s, the last of which is slated to be returned to its leasing company in Q3 2021, Mainly Miles understands.

In mid-November SIA confirmed to Mainly Miles that all 12 of its remaining Airbus A380s would be refitted with the newer 2017 cabin products, with only three now remaining to complete at the time of writing.

This trio will almost certainly be the last to come back online, once the refits are complete.

What’s the impact?

The future passenger fleet will therefore comprise only the following aircraft types:

  • Airbus A350s
  • New and refitted Airbus A380s
  • Boeing 777-300ERs
  • Boeing 787-10s

This will result in the range of seat types across Business Class, First Class and Suites falling from nine before COVID-19 to just five in the years to come, in advance of the next generation of cabin products, which is likely to coincide with the introduction of the Boeing 777-9.

SIA Business and First Class Seat Types

Category 2019 2020
Regional Business Class 2009 RJ
2018 RJ
 
2018 RJ
Long-Haul Business Class 2006 J
2013 J
2017 J
 
2013 J

2017 J
First Class 2006 F
2013 F
 
2013 F
Suites Class 2007 Suites
2017 Suites
 
2017 Suites
Total
9 types

5 types

Additionally, the airline will gain at least one and potentially two different Business Class seat types on its upcoming Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, as part of the merger of SilkAir into the mainline operation, with the first aircraft entering service in early 2021.

Farewell…

Over the coming days we’ll be running our ‘farewell’ series, looking back at the following cabin products we’ll no longer be experiencing on board Singapore Airlines flights.

Farewell 2009 Regional Business Class

 

READ THE ARTICLE

Farewell 2006 Business Class

 

READ THE ARTICLE

Farewell 2006 First Class

 

COMING SOON

Farewell 2007 Suites

 

COMING SOON

Farewell 2009 Regional Business Class

 

READ THE ARTICLE

Farewell 2006 Business Class

 

READ THE ARTICLE

Farewell 2006 First Class

 

COMING SOON

Farewell 2007 Suites

 

COMING SOON

These articles will take a look at the history of each of these seat types in turn, some of their quirkier features, and our experiences spending many (mostly happy) hours flying in them.

What we’re left with

While you may be dismayed at some of the Business and First Class seat types leaving the fleet, one thing this will ensure in the coming years is a simpler mix of the latest products installed on the six aircraft types remaining in the fleet.

Here’s a summary of how the three Business Class seats and two First Class / Suites products will be distributed.

Aircraft Business First /
Suites
2018 RJ

2013 J
2017 J
2017 Suites
2013 J
2013 F
2018 RJ

It’s now 100% direct aisle access and 100% flat-bed products for all Business and First Class passengers on SIA, with the withdrawal of the 2009 Regional Business Class seats.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Window-Pair-J-2-Small.jpg
The 2009 Regional Business Class was the last seat in the fleet without fully-flat beds and direct aisle access. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Sadly that won’t last long, with the initial batch of single-aisle Boeing 737-800 aircraft joining the Singapore Airlines fold from SilkAir in the first quarter of 2021 sadly retaining their 2-2 recliner Business Class seats for the time being.

Here’s a summary of the five seat types you can now look forward to in Business Class, First Class and Suites when flying Singapore Airlines, once the COVID-19 recovery is in full swing.

You can check out our comprehensive reviews of these remaining seats here:

Business Class

First Class / Suites

What will the Boeing 777-9s bring?

Nothing anytime soon is the simple answer!

At this stage the Boeing 777-9 is not due to enter the fleet until 2023, following a further delay to the production timeline, however this remains subject to further postponement as part of SIA’s ongoing negotiations with Boeing regarding its current aircraft orders and deliveries.

Cathay Pacific, who were also looking at a 2023 introduction for their Boeing 777-9s until recently, reached agreement with the manufacturer in October 2020 to push back its deliveries to “beyond 2025”, so we can probably expect something similar from Singapore Airlines once their negotiations with Boeing are concluded.

The Boeing 777-9 is still in production testing, and may not be arriving in the Singapore Airlines fleet for several years to come. (Photo: Boeing)

Nevertheless the new generation aircraft is set to become the future flagship of the fleet once it does arrive, with an all new First Class (potentially Suites Class) and all new Business Class product promised.

What will the Boeing 737s bring?

The only other new Business Class seats to look forward to in the near future are the flat-bed versions originally planned for SilkAir’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft ahead of their transfer to the mainline carrier.

Lots of water has gone under the bridge since the seat type, confirmed by the airline to be the Thompson Aero Vantage Single Aisle model, was first announced in February 2019.

The Thompson Vantage seat was selected by SIA for its Boeing 737 MAX Business Class. (Image: flydubai)

It remains to be seen how long we’ll have to wait to see something like this on the narrow-body SIA fleet, though it appears likely they will only be installed on the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which should begin flying again in 2021 following the type’s progressive global permission to re-enter service following modifications.

Summary

This is the highest number of Singapore Airlines cabin products we’ve said goodbye to in a single year, though the understandable accelerated retirement of older aircraft due to the COVID-19 pandemic was never something any of us foresaw this time in 2019.

The good news is a simpler and more modern variety of Business and First Class seats now awaits. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

In fairness the days of the 2009 Regional Business Class were already numbered, with the seat falling from deployment across 32% of the active fleet in March 2018 to just 10% by March 2020. The return from lease of Airbus A330s and inevitable retirement of older Boeing 777s would have almost certainly meant waving goodbye to those seats in 2021 anyway.

Similarly the small number of Boeing 777-300 aircraft with 2006 First Class seats installed wouldn’t likely have lived on much longer, even without COVID-19.

For the popular 2006 Business Class and 2007 Suites products however, it’s an unexpectedly premature withdrawal from the fleet, with both products leaving service in March 2020… without us really knowing at the time!

Stay tuned for our ‘farewell’ series over the coming days and weeks, with four articles each dedicated to paying a fitting tribute to these seats so many of us have enjoyed (or otherwise!) over the years.

(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)

4 comments

  1. My bro adivses that A380 are not intended for Singapore Airlines operation in the long term.

    Beijing Capital and Seoul and Tokyo Haneda for A380. Maybe Moscow and Amsterdam. London no more, because European carriers will spam frequency to SIN.

    He says depend on Airbus or Boeing discussions. They want 100 777X delivered pronto, or 100 A350. The 787-10 delivery rate is not desirable.

    No need First Class. Singapore Airlines had already mentioned this in articles explaining their revolutionary A380 Business seat, which subtly a double suite.

    They mentioned that F passengers simply didn’t like being located near door 1 because of noise from flight deck, cabin crew. Then they discovered why United, Lufthansa super elites choose to book Singapore Airlines Economy: they discovered that the cabin was significantly quieter, despite having noise cancelation in the premium cabins.

    Door 2 or just ahead of Economy is most prefereed.

    Singapore Airlines First violates the first rule of First Class. Privacy and anonyminity. It can’t guarantee either, so I rather they have a Business Plus or something

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