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SIA's new A380 arrives with revamped cabins, suites; to fly Sydney route from Dec 18

The double decker jumbo jet is kitted out with SIA’s new Suites and Business Class cabins. It will operate the flight numbers SQ221 and SQ232.

SIA's first new Airbus A380 touched down at Changi Airport's Terminal 3 at 9.50am on Thursday morning from Toulouse, and will be deployed on the Singapore-Sydney route from Dec 18.

Kitted out with SIA's new Suites and Business Class cabins, the double decker jumbo jet will be used to operate flights SQ221 and SQ232.

SIA is due to take delivery of four more A380s next year, while its existing A380s will eventually be retrofitted with the new products.

Amid heightened competition, the airline is investing US$850 million to fit its new products on its fleet of 19 A380s. The refreshed cabins will be available across the entire A380 fleet by 2020.

To better match demand, SIA is reducing the number of Suites from 12 to six. It has also reconfigured the new A380s to bump up the number of seats to 471. Its existing A380s are either configured with 379 seats or 441 seats.

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"For the A380, we took the opportunity to optimise the space utilisation," SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong told media at the sidelines of Thursday's event.

"As a result of that redesign and reconfiguration, we (have) a lot more seats and therefore, revenue opportunities," he said, adding, however, that realising those revenue opportunities will also depend on market competitiveness.

The airline is considering London as a potential second route for the new A380 products as it takes delivery of more aircraft.

The last time SIA updated its Business Class and Economy seats was in 2013, but this is the first refresh of its Suites, which was launched 10 years ago when SIA took delivery of the first A380 jet.

Unlike the older A380s, the new Suites will only have six cabins, but the size of each cabin has been ramped up from 30 square feet to 50 sq ft. With sliding doors for privacy, the suite also comes with a separate bed alongside a leather-upholstered seat, as well as a 32-inch (81 cm) HD touch screen.

Over in Business Class, a carbon fibre composite shell for the seat creates a thinner base structure for better use of space and delivers more under-seat stowage space. However, the seat pitch and seat width has come down from 55 inches to 50 inches, and 34 inches to 25 inches respectively.

Airbus's chief operating officer Fabrice Bregier described SIA's investment in retrofitting the A380 as a vote of confidence for Airbus. This comes as the European planemaker struggles with weak sales for the aircraft and is reportedly looking at cutting production to as low as six A380s a year.

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