SINGAPORE - Singapore Airlines (SIA) customers flying to Sydney on selected flights will be the first to experience the carrier's premium economy class from Aug 9.
For a fare of around 20 per cent more than economy, passengers will be able to enjoy wider seats with more legroom, better meals and amenities, and an improved all-round experience.
But when compared with discounted rates that usually come with conditions, the difference could be more than double.
SIA's decision to introduce the new tier follows the likes of Air France, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa and aims to improve yields and profits in challenging times.
With low-cost carriers dominating the short-haul market, SIA is looking to woo business and less cost-conscious leisure travellers who do not mind paying a premium for added comfort on long-haul flights.
Each seat in its premium economy cabin is about 48cm wide, with a calf-rest and foot-bar and reclines up to 20cm.
There is also a 13-inch high-definition in-flight entertainment monitor with noise-cancelling headphones, individual in-seat power supply, two USB ports and additional stowage space.
In economy class, the seats are 45cm wide with a 15cm recline.
To ensure a seamless experience, priority check-in and baggage handling will be offered to premium customers.
The baggage allowance of 35kg is 5kg more than for economy travellers, and KrisFlyer members will receive 10 per cent more miles when they fly premium economy.
The new product will be rolled out to other destinations served by SIA's Airbus 380s and Boeing 777-300ERs, in addition to the future fleet of Airbus 350s.
Routes including Beijing, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, London, Mumbai, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo and Zurich will follow in the later part of the year and early next year.
The airline's chief executive, Goh Choon Phong, is confident the product will be well received by travellers who want more features underpinned by "exceptional service" on the ground and in the air.
The total investment for the new cabin class, which will initially be introduced on 19 A380s, 19 777-300ERs and the first 20 A350s, is an estimated US$80 million (S$108 million).
The last time SIA had a premium economy class was about seven years ago on its non-stop flights to the United States, but services were terminated when demand was hit by the 2008 global financial crisis.
Said an analyst for the Centre of Asia Pacific Aviation, Brendan Sobie: "The overall reduction in capacity on several medium- and long-haul routes is also sensible as it should enable improved yields and profits on routes that have come under increasing pressure, particularly from Gulf carriers."
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