Singapore Airlines (SQ) takes delivery of its first of 67 Airbus A350s on March 3, 2016.
The Southeast Asian airline will receive 11 aircrafts in 2016, 7 in 2017 and the rest between 2018 to early 2020s. Within this order will be seven aircrafts that have additional range to fly long distance flights from New York area airports (EWR, JFK), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Singapore’s Changi Airport (SIN) (News – Airbus A350-900 Variant).
“Singapore Airlines itself has not grown very much in terms of long-haul operations,” said Goh. “With the addition of the A350-900 – with its fuel efficiency and its cabin that is ideal for mid-sized operations, we now have more options of opening up our network to more long-haul destinations.”
“In the past, we would have had to fly passengers to one of the main key entry points in Europe – such as Frankfurt or Paris – to connect onto Dusseldorf. When we have to connect onto another point, it obviously wouldn’t be as competitive as someone else that is able to fly nonstop”.
Singapore Airlines will use its first Airbus A350-900 (ID: 9V-SMA) on regional short haul Asian routes (Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta) between March to early May 2016. This is to assist crews in gaining familiarity with the aircraft before deploying it to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) on May 9, 2016.
Tickets are now on sale for the inaugural flights SQ324 and SQ323:
The next destination will be Düsseldorf Airport (DUS) tentatively scheduled for July 2016.
On Board Amenities
The aircraft is configured with 253 seats in three classes (Business, Premium Economy and Economy). Business and Economy classes uses the same design cues from the Boeing 777-300ER. Premium Economy seats are a new design introduced in 2015 (News).
Unlike its Middle Eastern competition like Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines has not been aggressive in expanding its long haul operations for the past five years. This is especially the case for North America. With more aircrafts being introduced, the airline will likely use 2016 as the record year to start service/announce new destinations. Canberra and Düsseldorf are new routes being announced for service shortly.
The A350-900s will be used to replace existing 777-200/777-200ERs and have a range that would allow the airline to expand to more secondary European, Asian and African destinations not currently possible.
When it comes to North American service, the airline will have to wait until 2018 before returning to the US non-stop. This will be 12-16 months behind its Star Alliance partner United Airlines’ new service from SFO to SIN to be commenced in June 2016 (News).
The airline is the fourth from Asia (sixth overall) behind Qatar Airways, Vietnam Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways (News) to receive the new widebodies. Competition is more intense than ever on connecting passengers to different airports using a one-stop solution. It has been working closely with the airport authority in a joint effort to market the city as a good connection point through unique food, culture and limited time experiences (such as being the only airport to have starfighters located inside the terminal – News).