Singapore Airlines To Debut All-Business-Class Transpacific Service - Business Travel News

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Singapore Airlines To Debut All-Business-Class Transpacific Service

March 04, 2008 - 12:00 AM ET

Singapore Airlines today announced it would reconfigure five planes to offer all-business-class nonstop transpacific service between Newark and Singapore, beginning in mid-May. Singapore plans to expand the service to Los Angeles in September.

The flights would represent the industry's first all-business-class transpacific service, joining several carriers that provide similar transatlantic flights, and would replace all daily two-class service between the cities. Travelers seeking economy class service between Singapore and Newark or Los Angeles will be restricted to one-stop flights.

Singapore will reconfigure five Airbus A340-500 planes, currently featuring 181 seats and two service classes, to include 100 business class seats identical to those offered on its Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 flights, in the same 1-2-1 configuration.

Singapore Airlines spokesperson James Boyd said the total cost of a roundtrip all-business-class Newark-Singapore flight would be just shy of $8,200, inclusive of all taxes and fees, which is about 5 percent higher than the current nonstop fare. All-business-class Los Angeles-Singapore service would cost slightly less, he said. The all-business-class service will offer 15-inch personal inflight entertainment, up from the current 10, and 1,000 on-demand entertainment options, up from 450.

Singapore launched nonstop two-class Newark-Singapore and Los Angeles-Singapore service on the long-haul A340-500 in 2004. Boyd said the carrier initially charged a 3 percent to 5 percent premium above one-stop business class fares on those flights, eventually increasing that premium to 7 percent and then 15 percent. "Demand outstripped supply," he said of the two-class flights' 64 business-class seats. "We had a waiting list almost every day."

Aviation consultant Robert Mann, president of Port Washington, N.Y.-based R.W. Mann & Co., said the development of more airplanes that can fly long distances without stopping to refuel—particularly Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, now expected in 2009—likely will lead to further nonstop long-haul business-class offerings. Singapore's move "leverages the ultra long-haul capability of the plane," he said. "We will see this be routine, especially as the 787 comes in."

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