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Singapore Airlines in $20m bid to build on reputation for excellence

Singapore Airlines is to invest $20 million over the next five years in redesigning its network of premium airport lounges as part of a drive to improve its share of business and first-class travellers.

Singapore Airlines is to invest US$20 million (Dh73.4m) over the next five years in redesigning its network of premium airport lounges as part of a drive to improve its share of business and first-class travellers.

The airline has appointed the architectural and interior design firm Ong&Ong to develop a new concept for its 15 SilverKris Lounges at airports around the world, to be rolled out progressively from the middle of next year.

Upgrading the lounges will take place in tandem with the appointment of two world-renowned design firms - the BMW Group subsidiary DesignworksUSA and the United Kingdom and Singapore-based James Park Associates (JPA) - to help develop the next generation of first and business-class cabin seats that will be introduced from the second half of next year.

"Apart from providing customers with an inviting and exclusive contemporary space, the next generation of SilverKris Lounges will meet the changing needs and expectations of both business and leisure travellers and better integrate the ground and air travel experience," said SIA's senior vice president for product & services, Tan Pee Teck.

"The appointment of the international design consultants [for the airline cabins] is in line with SIA's intention to remain at the forefront of airline product innovation.

"We are always looking towards the future and we have many major investments lined up for the years ahead to help us retain our leadership position.

"In this business if you are staying still you are moving backwards as your competitors can catch up quickly. It is therefore important to always be planning for the future," said Mr Tan. Airline industry analysts see the moves as SIA's response to greater competition on Europe to Asia routes mainly from Arabian Gulf region carriers such as Etihad Airways, Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways, which are expanding their more centrally located hubs and winning premium passengers with improved service.

For years, SIA assumed the mantle as the premier luxury carrier.

"Clearly, the competition in some areas has got a lot better," said Peter Miller, a spokesman for Skytrax, an international airline consultancy. "We are seeing a more level playing field in product standards as many carriers seek to match Singapore."

In May, SIA posted a loss of US$30.6 million (Dh112.38), its first quarterly deficit in more than two years, amid rising fuel prices and the cost of phasing out high-fuel-consumption aircraft.

The loss compared with a $137.2m profit for last year's fiscal fourth quarter. Analysts had forecast a profit of $71.4m for the latest quarter, which ended on March 31.

Since then SIA has said it would suspend services between Singapore and Abu Dhabi from October 26 due to weak demand. It will, however, continue to serve Dubai

dblack@thenational.ae

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