Hmmm. I am not too happy about another airline having SIA's SpaceBed, but as long as SIA Management say it's fine, then i suppose it's fine. ANyway...
Air NZ consider introducing a business class bed
22 August 2001
Air New Zealand is considering introducing a flat business class bed as part of a product overhaul next year, spokesman Mark Champion says.
Singapore Airlines, which owns 25 per cent of Air New Zealand, announced last week a US$100 million (NZ$234.1 million) long-haul business class upgrade, including the world's biggest business class bed, which the airline hopes will inspire its economy passengers to upgrade.
Mr Champion said Air New Zealand had been in discussions with Singapore Airlines about buying the "spaceBed" technology for its own aircraft.
Air New Zealand is also looking at Singapore Airlines' inflight entertainment system, including Internet and e-mail.
The airline plans to overhaul its service for both its own brand and subsidiary Ansett Australia.
It is awaiting a decision by the Government on a proposal for Singapore Airlines to lift its stake in the national carrier to as much as 49 per cent.
It says the increase in ownership is needed to help fund a multibillion-dollar fleet and service upgrade during the next five years.
For Singapore Airlines' part, it will introduce the seats, which go to nearly eight degrees from horizontal, on its Sydney, Melbourne and London flights from November.
The company says the beds are bigger and flatter than those of British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Cathay Pacific.
It's the closest couples can get to an in-flight double bed, but Singapore Airlines is trying to avoid encouraging a new version of the mile-high club.
The first refitted Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 777 aircraft will start flying between Singapore and London in early November.
The revamped cabins will be introduced to Sydney and Melbourne by early next year.
The entire refit programme would take about a year to complete.
Singapore Airlines' New Zealand marketing executive Bridget Vercoe said no date had been given for an upgrade of aircraft on the Auckland-to-Singapore route.
There were also no details on what tickets would cost.
When British Airways introduced its flat bed in business class to Australia early this year it charged a premium of 10 per cent for the seats. British Airways also introduced a new super economy class to bridge the gap between economy and business.
Singapore Airlines' new business class cabin will have eight fewer seats in a Boeing 747-400 to make room for the bigger seats.
The airline is marketing the innovation as a "double bed", but it also points out there is a gap between each pair of the luxury seats.
Singapore Airlines, which is majority-owned by the Singapore Government, does not want to be seen to be encouraging in-flight funny business, senior executive vice-president Michael Tan said.
"We don't want passengers coming along on their honeymoon and saying: 'Can I book your double bed'," Mr Tan said in Singapore.
"But if somebody wants to hold hands? Of course!"
Singles should not feel left out, even without a hand to hold.
SpaceBeds come with a whiz-bang electronic entertainment system with multiplayer computer games, video-on-demand, and laptop connections with free e-mail.
The airline was also soon to introduce high-speed broadband Internet access for passengers, Mr Tan said.
But this has raised its own problems in the context of adult online material.
The prospect of customers gaining in-flight Internet access to potentially pornographic or political material worries some Asian carriers.
One of them, Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific, plans to solve the problem by providing an edited "intranet" service.
Mr Tan said Singapore Airlines was looking at the issue, but doubted it would restrict Internet usage, in part because the seats increasingly incorporate privacy screens and television screens that cannot be viewed on an angle.
"Of course, a passenger has a right," he said.
"They say 'you can't regulate what I'm doing'."
Mr Champion said Air New Zealand was looking at Singapore Airlines' inflight entertainment system as well.
"What we are working toward is being able to leverage off the considerable expertise that Singapore Airlines has in customer service and innovations of this sort," Mr Champion said.
Passenger comfort was particularly important for travelling between the South Pacific and Europe, where passengers often flew two long-haul sectors back to back.
Mr Tan said the refit was unrelated to the Air New Zealand ownership talks.
"There's no relationship with any New Zealand issue," Mr Tan said.
He also quelled speculation that Singapore Airlines would follow some competitors and introduce a fourth class of travel through premium economy tickets.
Anyone can fly, only the best Soar.