Singapore Airlines will convert five Airbus ultra long-range aircraft into an all-business-class configuration this fall for its daily nonstop flights from Newark and Los Angeles to Singapore.
All of the A340-500s for the routes will be converted by late September.
Singapore Airlines said persistent, high demand for premium-class seating on flights provided the business case for making the change to business-class-only service. Airline spokesman James Boyd said the airline consistently has wait lists for business-class seats several days of the week, even though it has been charging a 15% higher fare than for competing one-stop services. The premium will rise to about 20% after the conversion and upgrade, he said.
Customers currently booked in economy on A340-500 flights who will be affected by the phased-in conversion will be re-accommodated where possible on existing Singapore Airlines services between Singapore and Los Angeles or New York -- most likely its one-stop options on the routes, Boyd said.
In the future, customers looking to fly in economy between Singapore and Los Angeles or New York can book on the existing one-stop flights. The airline operates a daily, three-class flight between Singapore and New York's Kennedy via Frankfurt on 747 aircraft.
Between Singapore and Los Angeles, the carrier operates a daily, three-class flight via Tokyo on 747 aircraft and two-class service via Taipei four times a week on 777 aircraft.
The airline said the retrofitting of the A340 aircraft on the Newark-Singapore route will begin in mid-May and be completed by the end of June. It did not yet know exactly when the retrofitting would begin for aircraft on the Los Angeles-Singapore route (it might be midsummer) but said all of them would be converted by late September.
The changeover will require each of the five A340 aircraft to be retrofitted in turn. To manage that, the daily Los Angeles-Singapore nonstop will not operate on Tuesdays between mid-May and late-June. There will be no change to the service frequency from Newark.
Singapore said the A340’s current two-class, 181-seat configuration will be replaced with 100 30-inch-wide seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, giving everyone aisle access. The seats will be the same as those on its A380 and 777-300ER fleet: 30 inches wide and convertible to a horizontal flat bed.
The number of entertainment system options, now about 450 on the A340, will expand to 1,004, Boyd said. That number includes movies, music, video games and work software applications.
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