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Singapore Struggling to Sell Premium Economy Seats on Ultra Long-Haul Flights

Nov. 14, 2018
3 min read
Singapore Airlines SQ22 inaugural - premium economy cabin
Singapore Struggling to Sell Premium Economy Seats on Ultra Long-Haul Flights
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It's no secret at this point that Singapore Airlines has reclaimed the title of operating the world's longest flight on its nonstop route between Newark (EWR) and Singapore (SIN). The route is operated by one of the carrier's Airbus A350-900ULR aircraft, which features just two cabins: business and premium economy. And, as it turns out, one of those two cabins isn't performing as well as the carrier had originally expected.

Singapore Airlines is having no issue in selling tickets in business class on ultra long-haul routes to the United States. However, in order to get sales in premium economy, the carrier's having to resort to pricing those seats very attractively, a senior executive told Reuters.

Singapore's Executive Vice President Commercial Mak Swee Wah, said on Wednesday there was existing demand for the airline's business-class product on these ultra long-haul flights to the US. The premium economy product, however, is not "entirely familiar" to the US markets, he said.

"I think we need to continue to stimulate and encourage the market to consider this product, initially with very attractive pricing, but eventually I think people will see that even at prices which we offer it is a good product to purchase because it is a very long flight," he said on Wednesday.

Since relaunching its nonstop route between Newark and Singapore, the airline has been marketing down the price of its premium economy product on the route. More specifically, you can commonly find round-trip fares on the route for less than $1,600 in premium economy. And, as part of Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer Spontaneous Escapes, the airline runs deals where you can redeem 80,000 miles round-trip for a premium economy ticket.

On Tuesday, Singapore Airlines reported an 81% decrease in Q2 net profit — mostly the result of higher fuel prices and lower airfares.

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Mak declined to comment if Singapore is considering changing the configuration of its A350-900ULR to outfit it with more business-class seats. The A350-900ULR features 67 business-class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, split between two cabins. Read a full review of the product here.

Photo by Zach Honig.

In the premium economy cabin, you can expect to find 94 recliner seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. Each of the seats has 38 inches of pitch and is 19.5 inches wide. You can read a full review of the product here.

Photo by JT Genter.
Photo by JT Genter.