Zulfikar Rahman sits down with George Robertson, Country Head of Singapore Airlines in Bangladesh and discusses the future venture of the airlines.

Many businesses aim to be customer-focused, but only a few can claim that they have a customer-driven culture. Add to that an immense desire for excellence and what you get is a perfect blend for success. This is something that Singapore Airlines have embedded within their services in Bangladesh over the last 34 years. ICE Today had the pleasure to have a one on one interview with the Country Head of Singapore Airlines in Bangladesh, George Robertson, to discuss the introduction of the Airbus A350 in Singapore Airlines and what this has in store for both the Airline and the overall aviation industry in Bangladesh.

Singapore Airlines is the World’s Most Awarded Airline and operates ten weekly flights from Dhaka to Singapore. Including SilkAir’s routes, this Airline covers 93 destinations in 34 countries/territories. George has helmed the seat as the Country Head of the Airline for a year now. “It’s been a good and an exciting journey so far and introducing our new aircraft, the Airbus A350, has been an icing on the cake. I can finally say that our hard work paid off, and we can celebrate this achievement,” the man shares.

Speaking about the A350, George believes that the new aircraft is a symbol of Singapore Airline’s commitment to invest in this market, a move which has been entirely driven by customer feedback and the growing demand for a better quality of air travel. George reflects on Singapore Airline’s strategy in Bangladesh by stating, “We believe in the longer-term prospects of Bangladesh we’re very excited to be bringing what we consider to be a medium-long haul type of product for the Dhaka-Singapore route.”

Many airlines are using a more regional type of aircraft to-from Dhaka from South-East Asia or even the Middle East as a response to that Singapore Airline will be introducing a long haul product with fully flat business class beds. George believes that this is a demonstration of the Airline’s commitment and belief in the continued expansion of the market.

MANY BUSINESSES AIM TO BE CUSTOMER-FOCUSED, BUT ONLY A FEW CAN CLAIM THAT THEY HAVE A CUSTOMER-DRIVEN CULTURE.

Singapore Airlines will be the first carrier to operate an A350 in Bangladesh on 01st Feb 2020. What distinguishes the A350 offering to that of its predecessor the A330 and even in comparison to the other airlines operating in the Dhaka-Singapore route, is shifting from a 30 seat config to a 40 seat config in business class and from a 2-2-2 seating config to a 1-2-1 fully flat product.

Hence, every business class passenger will be able to access the isle and will benefit from a 26-inch wide business class seat, which makes for a very generous and private space. George proudly mentions that the aircraft is fully equipped with onboard wifi throughout the flight. As one of many cherries on the top, Business-class passengers will be able to access wifi. Talk about neat perks for Business-class travellers.

For the economy passengers, complimentary wifi will be offered the first two weeks. In addition to that, the A350 will provide over 1000 entertainment options including Hollywood, Bollywood and even some Bangladeshi movies and tv shows.

While identifying key features, George highlights that Singapore Airline pays a lot of attention to the smallest of details, so there’s a lot of small features that add a lot of value. Consumers of Singapore Airline can now download our mobile app, and if they log in with their frequent flyer member id, they then can see the inflight entertainment content of their flight. If that is not enough, the passengers can arrange a playlist, and they can customize what they would like to see.

If that is not enough, passengers who have two flights, for example, they are flying to Sydney can watch a movie from the Dhaka to Singapore flight and somehow are unable to complete the movie. On the next flight, the system intuitively will know what the customer was watching and will give the option to resume that movie for the continuation of their flight.

George Robertson, Country Head of Singapore Airlines in Bangladesh

Besides having many features what stands out about the A350 is its environmental impact. On average it is about 40% quieter, i.e. the noise footprint is 40% less than the equivalent sized aircraft of the previous generation. The carbon emission is also about 25% lower per seat for this A350. George adds, “Singapore Airline is very much committed to sustainability, and of course we believe that we have one of the youngest fleets of any airline and this a testimony to our belief that the industry must be sustainable. So we also have a responsibility to our customers and our investors to make sure we are flying in a very sustainable way for our environment.”

The introduction of the A350 is undoubtedly a game-changer for the aviation industry in Bangladesh, and it is a testament to the fact that the industry in this market is growing in double digits year on year. “As the population continues to grow and new people join the labour market, trade increases between Bangladesh & other countries, and we see a lot of foreign direct investment, the prospects I would say are good.” George expands on this, “Of course we need supportive government, and we hope the new airport terminal will help transform the Dhaka airport into an international standard airport.”

Singapore Airlines clearly sees the growing demand for high-end travel in Bangladesh. With strong growth in terms of business’ looking for international opportunities, a lot of customers are very discerning when it comes to the choice of airline partner. People are more aware of premium brands and better quality products across all facets of lifestyle and airlines are no different. George foresees an exciting time ahead for the industry. He concludes by saying, “The introduction of the A350 is an example of quality service by an airline like ours. We hope that the other airlines will also take note that Singapore Airlines is investing and upgrading its product in Bangladesh and that they will also do likewise and bring some of their flagship aircraft into Dhaka and help the economy to grow.”

*Photographs by Din Muhammad Shibly