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Missing a Meal on an Airplane: Singapore Airlines Has a Tray Table for You

Madhu Unnikrishnan
September 30th, 2020 at 12:34 PM EDT

Pining to eat airline food? Singapore Airlines has a deal for you! On October 24 and 25, the airline will make one of its Airbus A380s into a restaurant on the tarmac at its Changi hub. Passengers will be served signature dishes from Singapore’s inflight menu (which, to be fair, is considered among the best airline food in the world).

This is just one of several “experiences” Singapore Airlines is offering as part of its “Discover Your Singapore Airlines” package. Others include touring the flight simulator and cabin crew training facilities and home delivery of the airline’s inflight food.

The pandemic has hit Singapore Airlines particularly badly. From its Pierre Balmain-designed inflight uniforms to its luxurious lounges, the airline staked its fortune on premium intercontinental traffic. That market has all but evaporated now, and it’s uncertain when it may come back. It recently said it would eliminate up to 4,300 jobs through a combination of furloughs and attrition. Unlike many of its competitors, the airline has no domestic market at all. Singapore, a city state, is smaller in area than New York City.

In this week’s Feature Story, Airline Weekly argued that although things are dire now for Singapore Airlines, the carrier has a lot strengths to play to manage through this pandemic and when travel starts to return. Among them are large markets in its region, like China, India, and Japan, where it has a powerful network and opportunities to grow. Another opportunity could lie in more strategic partnerships with airlines in the region.

And even though Singapore Airlines’ A380 restaurant sounds silly, it’s capitalizing on strong loyalty for the airline in its home country. And unlike other airlines, it’s doing so without burning tens of thousands of kilograms of jet fuel on flights to nowhere. It’s keeping its inflight crews, caterers, support staff, and others, gainfully employed while much of their normal work remains on hold. And above all, Singapore Airlines is generating revenue.

So although it’s tempting to laugh at the prospect of eating dinner on an A380 on the ground, it’s also worth applauding Singapore for getting creative in bringing in cash, keeping its brand alive in passengers’ eyes, and doing so in a way with minimal damage to the environment.

Madhu Unnikrishnan
September 30th, 2020 at 12:34 PM EDT

Photo credit:  Singapore Airlines

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