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SIA to push forward on digital transformation this year, says its chief

SINGAPORE Airlines (SIA) will set up an internal digital innovation unit as well as tie up with partners in digital research and development (R&D) and innovation, chief executive Goh Choon Phong said in a New Year letter to staff.

Mr Goh highlighted that the airline will "significantly enhance (its) digital capabilities" this year, creating a digital mindset and digital-first culture among staff.

"We have been progressively stepping up our digital capabilities and capacity, and have a multi-year investment programme of several hundred million dollars," he wrote.

The competitive aviation environment in South-east Asia prompted the flag carrier to implement a three-year transformation programme in May 2017, as it seeks to reclaim the title of the world's best airline.

Striking a confident tone, Mr Goh wrote: "The programme is well on track with many initiatives already bearing fruit in terms of revenue generation and enhancement of operational efficiency. Additional new revenue generating opportunities are also being actively explored, with some close to fruition. We are confident that we will achieve all of our objectives under the programme which will position the group even better for the future."

It is also investing in other areas such as new aircraft, with some S$50 billion worth of aircraft on order for the parent airline and its subsidiaries, signalling a "clear growth phase", Mr Goh said.

This year, SIA will be the launch customer for the Boeing 787-10 aircraft as well as take delivery of the world's first A3500-900 Ultra Long Range planes, which will allow it to restart direct services to New York and Los Angeles once again.

In a separate release issued on Thursday, SIA announced it is partnering Lasalle College of the Arts in a tie up where Lasalle students will conceptualise and design a new 3,200 square foot Innovation Lab for SIA.

The Innovation Lab is part of SIA's efforts to enhance its digital capabilities and improve the air travel experience for passengers by tapping emerging technologies. It will serve as a collaborative workspace for SIA staff to generate innovative ideas and test solutions to tackle challenges that the airline is grappling with. In addition, the airline will work with external partners such as startups.

Final year students from Lasalle's School of Spatial & Product Design will compete to come up with key design concepts, layout plans and an interior design proposal for SIA's Innovation Lab, which is slated for launch around mid-2018.

A panel of judges - comprising design industry veterans, lecturers from Lasalle and senior management from SIA - will evaluate the submissions. The winning team will be awarded S$4,000 as well as return Economy Class tickets to any SIA destination.

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