Home' Asian Aviation : AAV February 2016 Contents 52 AsianAviation | FEBRUARY 2016
he Asia-Pacific region is home to some of
the most innovative airlines in the world.
Carriers in the region have experimented
with everything from business models to
partnerships to in-flight entertainment and aircraft
cabins in an effort to gain the edge in a highly
Singapore Airlines has been at the forefront of
numerous innovations, most notably in the aircraft
cabin. Speaking at the Association of Asia-Pacific
Airlines (AAPA) annual presidents’ assembly, which
took place in Bali, Indonesia, late last year, Singapore
Airlines chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong
said that his airline continues to push innovation in
three areas – service, product and network.
On the service side, SIA has worked to develop a
keen understanding of its passengers. Three years
ago, the airline launched the multi-year customer
experience network programme. The first stage
of the programme, which is complete, involved
collating all information on passengers from every
touchpoint in order to thoroughly understand them.
The next stage, to be launched this year, will see
this information flow through to staff, prompting
staff to do something for the passenger in front of
them. “This is not aimed at removing human contact
but freeing our staff of the need to search around
for information. It gives them more time to interact,”
Goh explains. All elements of customer service will
be integrated into this system, he adds.
When it comes to product, SIA continues to
push the boundaries, from extra-large Panasonic
touchscreens on its KrisFlyer in-flight entertainment
system to the entry into service of new aircraft types,
such as the Boeing 787 for low-cost subsidiary
Scoot and the Airbus A350 which will join the parent
airline fleet this year, allowing it to serve longer legs.
The airline’s next batch of A380s, for which SIA is
currently designing the product for all classes, will
come online in 2017 and the ultra-long haul (ULH)
A350s and 787-10s will follow in 2018.
“These are all coming quite fast,” says Goh, adding
“lots of cabin innovation” can be expected.
In terms of network development, new aircraft such
as the A350ULH allows it to open up new, direct,
longer legs, such as non-stop services to the United
States, says Goh. SIA is also pursuing partnerships
more aggressively than it has previously in order to
develop its network, says Goh, pointing, for example,
to deeper co-operation with Lufthansa.
Goh believes SIA is also pushing the business
model, operating as a full-service carrier, its LCC
operator Scoot as well as LCC subsidiary Tigerair.
SIA is seeking full ownership of Tigerair and, if
successful, it would take the airline private and
introduce greater integration of Scoot and Tigerair
to feed each other, just as SIA has done successfully
with SilkAir, says Goh.
In further developments, SIA is pushing its hub
beyond Singapore in order to expand its reach,
to India for example with Vistara. “India has great
potential. We have the skill set to navigate the
challenges in India,” says Goh. Likewise, Goh says
Scoot’s joint venture with Thailand’s Nok Air, Nok
Scoot, is also an example of it “branching out beyond
its comfort zone of the past”.
SIA is also looking at adjacent businesses in a
more deliberate way, says Goh, pointing to the
airline’s Singapore-based joint training centre with
Airbus, Airbus Asia Training Centre.
In technology, SIA is investigating security, mobile
devices, Big Data and social media developments,
Even when SIA isn’t first to market with a
development, it looks at how it can do things
differently, as evidenced by the recent launch of its
Premium Economy service. Ben Orson, managing
director of JPA Design, which has worked with SIA
on its designs for 20 years including its latest Premium
Economy, revealed at the Future Travel Experience
(FTE) Asia Expo in Singapore late last year, how the
partners worked to differentiate SIA’s product.
“SIA knew they were coming into a [premium
economy] market that’s mature and they had to
pitch above that,” says Orson, noting that premium
economy was introduced more than 20 years ago,
featuring more leg-room, more seat width, more
recline, additional stowage, larger IFE screen and
“anything bigger than economy that doesn’t offer
a flatbed”. Orson says: “A lot of premium economy
products are economy seats spread out. Premium
economy is an established market and we needed
to decide where we wanted to fit in.” It did so by
focusing on details and optimisation of features.
SIA’s Premium Economy seat is based on the Zim
Flugsitz BC-01, with the addition of an individual
reading light, leather upholstery, different stitch
pattern, USM and standard power supply, leg rest
and calf support and a new centre console. It also
features, at 13.3 inches, the largest IFE screen in
its class, along with laptop and magazine stowage,
and a completely redeveloped seat back. Overall,
Premium Economy is strongly differentiated from the
airline’s other cabins, says Orson.
In its design, JPA took note of the “importance of
status in Asia”, says Orson. “We needed a seat that
resonated with status aspirations,” he says, which
resulted in a differentiated and elevated space in the
cabin. The designer also moved away from SIA’s
normal colour palette, adopting instead a colour
scheme of greys with accents of orange and powder
blue for a more youthful appearance.
“It’s unashamedly premium. There’s a lot of
functionality there, but also brightness and mild
ostentation,” he says, pointing to details such as the
stitching on the seat which is similar to that found
on Louis Vuitton and Bentley products and the high
quality of materials used. The response has been
extremely positive, according to Orson. ✈
Singapore Airlines is one of the most
innovative airlines in the region. Emma
Pushing the boundaries
JPA Design moved away
from SIA’s normal colour
palette in Premium Econ-
omy, adopting instead a
colour scheme of greys
with accents of orange and
powder blue for a more
4/02/2016 7:29:54 PM
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