MIAMI – Singapore Airlines (SQ) will fly a consistent cabin product on its Airbus A380s. Confirming Monday to, SQ will upgrade its remaining four aircraft with the older seats to the latest fit. Singapore has already retrofitted eight aircraft

Seven of the carrier’s fleet of 19 A380s are deemed surplus and will not rejoin the fleet. Originally, the retrofit program was to update 14 aircraft by the end of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic forced a change to that schedule.

Last year, SIA Engineering Company (SIAEC) in collaboration with Airbus Services has recently completed the first of 14 A380 full-cabin retrofits for Singapore Airlines (SIA). Render: Airbus

Eight Aircraft Have Been Refitted

There was 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, SQ has installed eight A380s with the new cabin products,” said a Singapore spokesperson.

These eight include five aircraft newly delivered in 2017/18 and three refitted aircraft – 9V-SKT, -SKS and -SKN.

Refits seem to take around eight months. Thus, it could be into 2021 before we see the next retrofitted aircraft take its post-reconfiguration test flight. It’s unlikely, though, that it will return to revenue service anytime soon given the current economic situation.

Singapore Airlines has removed Suites and First Class cabin availability for revenue and award booking until 31st October 2021, according to Mainly Miles. Here’s a list of the current A380 fleet.

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Why Retrofit and Upgrade Now?

One might wonder why SQ is going ahead with the upgrades, given the A380s are out of revenue service for the foreseeable future. This is is likely because the seat products themselves, which make up over half the cost of each retrofit, had already been ordered and had potentially reached a late stage of manufacture. Meaning SIA had to pay for them anyway.

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 traveling with a companion.

Singapore Airlines is not 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 cabin is the excellent Business Class product. Seventy-eight seats make 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 traveling 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

The biggest capacity boost in the new A380 layout takes place in Premium Economy. This class occupies the former Suites cabin at the front of the main deck with 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.

Singapore introduced the seats in 2013 on the Boeing 777-300ER. They are by German manufacturer ZIM Flugsitz. The airline installed a slightly narrower 19-inch-wide version on its Airbus A350 long-haul variant.

According to the airline, customers will enjoy active noise-cancelling headphones and a 13.3-inch HD monitor. Other features include a full leather finishing, calf-rest and foot-bar for every seat, individual in-seat power supply, two USB ports, personal in-seat reading light, cocktail table, and more stowage space for personal items.

Premium Economy on the refitted Airbus A380. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Economy Class

A380 Economy Class will have the latest Recaro CL3710 seats, complete with the airline’s own customization.

One of the biggest benefits is the latest IFE system with an 11.1-inch touchscreen, individual USB charging, and shared multi-standard power sockets.

Economy Class on the refitted Airbus A380. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Will We Continue to See The Older Products?

It could easily take another two years to retrofit the remaining three aircraft after 9V-SKM. Based on the pace of refits completed to date, that could tie in nicely with air travel returning.

IATA forecasts demand returning to pre-COVID levels by 2024. Thus, it seems likely that the refitting of older A380 cabins will be complete by then, and the old cabins will not see passenger service again.

That means it’s probably farewell to the airline’s first Suites product, which remained popular with travelers right up to the end. With twice as many Suites as the newly configured aircraft have, it was also an easier way to redeem KrisFlyer miles.

The news probably also means the older (super-wide) 2006 Business Class seat are a thing of the past.

Featured image; Wiki Commons