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Passengers pay to soar aloft in the lap of luxury.

Byline: Chris Kelsey and Owen Hughes

Acompany in south Wales is making the most luxurious airline seats in the world - including private suites and double beds for business-class passengers.

From its factory in Cwmbran, Zodiac Seats UK supplies the luxury that globe-trotting executives demand. And the airlines that want to attract these high-paying passengers are prepared to pay big bucks to Zodiac, which employs more than 1,800 people at its sites at Cwmbran in Torfaean and Camberley in south-east England. Last December, Airbus unveiled its latest A380 jumbo jet that was being delivered to Singapore Airlines. It was Airbus' most expensive and luxurious commercial plane so far and came with a selection of mile-high double beds for couples.

Singapore Airlines plans to spend PS640m on luxury refits of its A380 fleet. The new jets will include six private luxury suites with beds that can be stowed to create extra space when not in use.

Zodiac will make 114 suites in total for Singapore Airlines' A380 fleet. The first two suites in each aircraft are for couples, and in these the beds can be converted into double beds.

There's also a comfy reclining swivel chair in each suite, plus a 32-inch HD monitor, a full-length wardrobe, bag stowage compartment, amenity box and mood lighting. The bathrooms include a vanity mirror and seat.

This luxury does not come cheap, with a return flight from London to Sydney via Singapore setting passengers back at least PS9,500.

If you want to downgrade to business class, then for around PS5,000 return you can still get a bed.

There's plenty of privacy in each seat, thanks to the carbon-fibre composite shell surrounding it, but in the middle rows, the centre divider can be dropped to create a mile-high double bed, although without the privacy of a suite.

Even the cheap seats in economy promise more leg-room and back support, a six-way adjustable headrest and foldable wings, an 11.1-inch touch-screen monitor, a "nonintrusive" reading light, personal storage space and a coat hook.

Singapore Airlines CEO Mr Goh Choon Phong said: "The new cabin products are the culmination of four years of work, involving extensive customer research and close partnerships with our designers and suppliers. We are confident that the results will genuinely 'wow' our customers, and ensure that we continue to provide them an unparalleled travel experience."

Airbus is delivering five of the luxury jets to Singapore Airlines as well as refitting further planes.

Zodiac Seats is a division of Zodiac Aerospace, a global firm founded in France in 1896. Last year it was bought by French aerospace business Safran in a deal worth nearly PS7bn. The UK division reported a turnover of PS180m in 2016.


A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380

A double bed in a suite for a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380, made by Zodiac Seats UK in Cwmbran

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 21, 2018
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