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February 14, 2014

Chew Tai Lu, VP Product Innovation for Singapore Airlines

By Chris Boyle

sia_Elite Traveler recently spoke to Chew Tai Lu, VP Product Innovation for Singapore Airlines.

Elite Traveler: As you may know, Elite Traveler is the only BPA Audited publication to go onto private jets worldwide. Our readers are clients that travel first class long haul and then take a private jet.  Can you please tell us about your background?

I’ve been with Singapore Airlines for more than 30 years. Other than my current portfolio looking after product innovation, I have also covered other areas such as advertising and promotions, cabin crew training and performance, and general manager in New Zealand, etc.

In the product innovation department, where I have worked for the last five years, my responsibilites include the following: Cabin Interior and Design Development; In-Flight Entertainment Development and Programming: movies, applications, connectivity and games; and Customer Research.

ET: Cabin design and upgrade has been very big for Singapore Airlines. As the project manager, can you please tell us more about the project?

With the delivery of the second group of our eight new 777-300ER aircraft, we started the process of introducing new cabin products, giving our First Class, Business Class and Economy Class cabins, including the in-flight entertainment system, a brand new perspective, yet retaining our product hallmark features.

The first aircraft was delivered last August and started flying in September 2013. Our goal was to make “A Great Way To Fly” even better, with special attention given to ergonomics, comfort, convenience and style, as well as to our customers’ interests and lifestyles.

Besides working with our design companies tapping on their creative ideas, there was also customer inputs, and it was vital to integrate into the designs our Singapore Airlines brand value and premium service model that is unique to our heritage.

ET:  Are these new designs complete luxury?

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Yes, luxury is all about premium quality and detailing. In our new seat design, special attention has been given to ensure that customers enjoy contemporary elegance and added privacy, with uncompromising comfort and convenience.

Thoughtful and elegant finishes, sculpted cushions upholstered with exquisitely crafted leather, stylish personal control unit, padded headboard in bed mode, and a holistic and harmonized lighting atmosphere are some examples of our Next Generation seats. All of these are complemented by our renowned cabin crew service.

ET: Please briefly explain the dimensions of your new first class. How has the design improved?

Our previous first class product was already very spacious and exuded luxury. Therefore,  this time around, we engaged BMW Group DesignworksUSA to rethink and reshape the new first class experience.

As the customer walks into the aircraft, the rich brown tones of entry walls create a sophisticated mood that provides a neutral backdrop for our ‘Singapore Girl’ welcome.

Once the customer enters the main cabin, the seat panel is specially designed to create privacy; and the grey metallic side panels of the seat contrast the rich brown leather and interior of the seat to give a cool-warm effect that distinguishes the personal space (which is synonymous to the automobile design, where the exterior is more cool metallic while the interior is more warm and welcoming).

ET:  Is there WIFI on Singapore Airlines?

Yes, currently there is onboard connectivity on 28 aircraft, with the rest of our A380s and B773ER aircraft to be fitted with this service by 2015.

ET: Can you please tell me the timeframe for rolling out this product and which routes the new airplanes take?

So far we have fitted our new cabin products on two of our eight new 777-300ER aircraft, flying between Singapore and London, and Singapore and Mumbai currently.

The new products will be introduced progressively on the remaining six new aircraft to be delivered by 2015, as well as on our new Airbus A350 aircraft scheduled for delivery in the years ahead.

ET: What do you have to say to our private jet travelers who are used to luxury?

We have partnered with BMW Group DesignworksUSA and James Park & Associates to make this project special and exclusive for our customers.

Both design companies have had vast experience with luxury transportation and hospitality. We share an affinity for innovation and contemporary design and have drawn upon the use of colour, textiles and tactile surfaces, together with subtle holistic details, to create a new First Class and Business Class travel experience for our customers.

We welcome your readers to try out our new cabin products and look forward to welcoming them on board.

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