Singapore Airlines: non-stop USA flights with long-range A350

By David Flynn, October 13 2015

Singapore Airlines will restart non-stop flights to Los Angeles and New York from 2018 using a new ultra-long-range version of the Airbus A350.

The airline will buy the first seven of Airbus' new A350-900ULR jetliner, which will have a range of up to 8,700 nautical miles, and says the aircraft could also unlock other non-stop routes between Singapore and the US.

New business class to beat the long-haul blues

SQ's long-legged A350s will be fitted with all-new business class seats currently being designed for its second raft of Airbus A380s.

Airbus has confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that there'll be only around 170 seats, compared to some 300 in SQ's standard mid-range A350.

It's not known if the jets will also sport the airline's new first class design, or what the mix of other seating will be.

Read: new Singapore Airlines A380 first class suites, business class in 2017

Singapore Airlines previously ran non-stop ‘all business class’ flights to Los Angeles and NY-adjacent Newark on the older four-engined Airbus A340 fitted with 100 seats, but axed the service in 2013 due to the rising fuel costs.

Earlier this year, Singapore Airlines CEO Mr Goh Choon Phong told Australian Business Traveller that he was looking beyond the former ‘all business class’ model of those Airbus A340 flights.

“It will probably be more than just business class, I think it will be a mix of cabin classes” Goh said.

From A to B with more Zzzz

Singapore Airlines currently flies to Los Angeles and San Francisco via Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo; New York via Frankfurt; and Houston with a stop in Moscow.

Speaking with Australian Business Traveller during an A350 media briefing in Toulouse this week Mr Tan Pee Teck, Singapore Airlines' Senior Vice President for Product & Services, nominated more sleeping time as a major benefit of non-stop flights from SIngapore to the US.

"When you actually measure the total time (between Singapore and New York) – let’s say you transit through Frankfurt, there’s not much of a difference (between non-stop and transit)," Tan suggested.

"The only thing is that you can have a longer sleep – instead of 13 hours and then 7 hours, you’d fly non-stop."

Making the A350 fly further

"We know the A350 would be capable of what we call ultra-long range missions, flights of 18 or 19 hours, with some limited modifications" Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier told Australian Business Traveller last week at an event to mark the delivery of Finnair's first A350.

Those modifications to the A350-900ULR over its off-the-shelf sibling include "a higher capacity fuel system within the existing fuel tanks", says Airbus, rather than fitting extra tanks.

The revamped fuel system will boost carrying capacity from 141,000 litres to 165,000 litres and will allow any 900ULR "be reconfigured easily to the standard A350-900 specification" should the non-stop market grow softer than SQ's current forecasts. 

Singapore Airlines has been actively lobbying both Airbus and Boeing for a globe-spanning jet, which would allow it to resume non-stop flights between Singapore and the USA, potentially including a 19 hour trek to New York.

New jets like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787-9 are allowing airlines to redraw their network map to launch new time-saving routes without a halfway stop-over to refuel.

Announcing Qantas’ Boeing 787 order, Joyce was quick to call out “long-range routes that we don’t fly today” as a prime example of Dreamliner flights. 

Joyce sees plenty of appeal in mapping the Boeing 787 onto “routes that we want to fly over a hub and go directly into other destinations without having to fly through LA", as well as direct flights from Australia's west coast into Europe and possibly London.

Read more: Where will Qantas fly its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners?

PREVIOUS | Airbus and Boeing are pouring billions into designing next-gen jets like the A350 and Boeing 777X, but Singapore Airlines wants more.

Specifically, the Singaporean flag-carrier wants more range – enough to run direct flights from Singapore to the USA, potentially including a non-stop 19 hour trek to New York.

“This will need an aircraft based on the latest technology”, Singapore Airlines CEO Mr Goh Choon Phong told Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of a half-yearly gathering of Star Alliance airline CEOs in Warsaw last month.

But Goh says this doesn’t have to be a totally new aircraft. “It could be a variation to a current design, it’s all up to them.”

That could include special extended range or ‘ER’ versions of the Airbus A350 or Boeing 777X fitted with extra fuel tanks.

"I’ll leave it to Airbus and Boeing to decide what they can do with the new technology they already have" Goh said. “All I want is an aircraft capable of that mission and comparable in fuel efficiency to the latest technologies they already have.”

Goh has made his case to both Airbus and Boeing, and says “I am currently waiting for their response.”

Singapore Airlines offloaded its A340s as part of a deal to modernise its fleet with the new Airbus A350, the first of which will take wing in SQ stripe in January 2016.

However, the airline's choice of the mid-size A350-900 jets – which will fly in both three-class and two-class versions – lacks the legs to do Singapore-New York non-stop.

That route is some 9,500 miles, while the A350-900 tops out at roughly 8,700 miles and the longer-range A350-1000 falls short of the mark with a maximum range of just over 9,000 miles.

How many orders would Goh place for a long-legged jetliner from Airbus or Boeing? “That’s something I will discuss with them” he smiles. 

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

David
David

David Flynn

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

lind26

lind26

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 269

They have to give more seat pitch on ultra long routes. 19 hours is too long to be squeezed.

Speedbird

Speedbird

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 274

I'm thinking DVT could be a real concern on that length of flight

elchriss0

elchriss0

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 578

I believe they should do like what they once did with their A345s...but have their new premium economy product inplace of their old executive economy.   Have the same 2-4-2 configuration as on their upcoming refitted 77Ws.  Have the whole aft section as around 70 premium eco seats, 1 row of 4 First seats just cos and the rest as around 80 business class.

Bizflyer

Bizflyer

Lufthansa - Miles & More

29 Jul 2014

Total posts 185

SQ should go for the 777-8X as part of there fleet plan with a new compiled fleet of:

A350 -900/-1000 roughly as 50/20 split

A380-800 24

777-8X/-9X  12/30 roughly 

787-10 30

Would make a good mix with alot of medium haul capcity but still a good amount of long haul aswell.

fxdxdy

fxdxdy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 219

Old world thinking.
I'd rather a supersonic jet.
Even if they don't have the range, I'd prefer two 5 hour hops with a 90 minute break in between than 19 hours in the same tube. 

AWA2602

AWA2602

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 209

I like your thinking fxdxdy! Two short hops at supersonic speed with a refresher stop on the ground with just enough time to grab a shower and meal, thus leaving time to do a good day's work in flight would be my idea of perfect!  19 hours in the air does not sound appealing, even First Class would get tedious after that length of time.

Serg

Serg

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

I cannot get it - A380 and B777-8X can do it "out of the box" and I fail to see what stopping Boeing to do 747-8 in "LR" configuration that can do even more. Or SQ wants something is size of 330/787 that burns as much fuel in 19hr flight as one to fly to SYD from SIN? Not happens anytime soon.

And out of the box thinking - what stopping them to develop refuel in air? They can refuel at west coast of USA and refueling will save enormous amount of fuel because one do not need to carry all those fuel all way along.

Saying all this I will prefer to have stopover and walk a bit then 19hr straight flight. Almost 14hr SID-LHR or MEL-DXB is already over the top.

Hugo

Hugo

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

>And out of the box thinking - what stopping them to develop refuel in air? 

Cost and safety, I would imagine. 

Cost, because buying, maintaining and launching a midair tanker is expensive. More expensive to launch an entire extra plane than simply to take extra fuel.

Cost, because you'd have to hugely reengineer your entire airliner for mid-air refuelling. Running fuel lines from the nose to the wing, without going through the passenger compartment or cockpit, worrying about weight and safety and leaks... it sounds tricky.

Safety, because flying two big planes next to one another is intrinsically unsafe. The military is willing to take the risk, but civilian airlines aren't.

Oh, and by the way, the route from New York to Singapore doesn't go anywhere near the US west coast, it goes straight over the North Pole.

MGHolden

MGHolden

SilkAir - KrisFlyer

15 Jul 2015

Total posts 10

I've flown the inaugurral flight EWK-SIN long and gruelling but 3, 4 times per year you get used to it. The 4 engines certaintly felt better but sia are expert at making sure they optimise every square in - they are masters of it.

One of the reasons I left the Singapore airlined program - 1 year short of reach solitaire status gone and, poof, thwir loyalt is gone.

For the A350-900 jets they will find a way to make a trip to New York

MGHolden

MGHolden

SilkAir - KrisFlyer

15 Jul 2015

Total posts 10

Matthew - agree! I too flew EWK-SIN 3-4 times a year. It was too hard in economy and SIA removed economy and then it was all business on the A340-500. Like you I was one year away from life Solitaire and they cancelled life program so I abandoned SIA and so did my 5 staff at that time. The direct flight works for me.  I still have my signed certificate from the Captain of the first flight!

chewkc65

chewkc65

08 Oct 2011

Total posts 45

I am sure the existing B777-200LR would have done a better job than the A340-500.  Then there is  already B777-8 on the pipeline.  What's the problem?  I would have thought the question would be when will we see SYD-LHR non-stop as a reality.  Or go a bit further, a non-stop antipodal range of say 14000 miles including reserves.

CityRail

CityRail

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

17 Nov 2014

Total posts 92

They want direct flights to Los Angeles and New York, but how about San Fransico?

They currently run 2x daily via ICN and HKG so I am sure they might be interested to add 1x daily direct there too?

Also I suppose they might still able to convert some of their later A350-900 orders to A350-900LR or A350-1000 if required?

elchriss0

elchriss0

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 578

The A359LR is not a thing as of yet, whereas the 778X is already announced.  Why would they wait for some imaginary aircraft when the 778X fits the bill and it's not like the 777 is a new type.  Once upon a time (before EK) SQ was the largest 777 operator in the world until around 2009.

StudiodeKadent

StudiodeKadent

20 May 2015

Total posts 584

Yeah, I presume this jet will also do direct US West Coast services. LAX and SFO. Maybe also a Canadian service to Vancouver?

As for the New York jet's configuration, I can see the logic. NYC to SIN would be hugely dominated by business travellers, plus even though SQ's economy class is the best in the sky the simple fact is that 19 hours is too long for almost anyone to remain comfortable.

So Premium Economy + Business + First makes remarkable sense for the New York flight. The smaller number of passengers for such a service would also help preserve the jet's longer range.

Also, regarding the issue of direct services... it is possible that SQ makes quite a bit from the HKG-SFO leg (its clearly a premium-heavy route given both HK and SF are financial/business centers), and they also give Cathay some competition. I can easily see SQ perhaps relinquishing the ICN stopover route though.

Bra

Bra

QF

11 May 2015

Total posts 23

SQ flights 16 and 16 do SIN-ICN-SFO and the reverse daily. I have flown SFO-ICN numerous times.

On a more general nopte I have flown a few times EWR-SIN on SQ A340-500 with the all business class 1-2-1 layout . Whilst its comfortable I much prefer to take the JFK-FRA-SIN and reverse trip - a couple of hours longer but with a stretch of legs and a shower at FRA its worth it - not to mentionm a cheasper fare.

VC10

VC10

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 4

B777-8 would seem logical, but the range quoted on Boeing's website is "more than 9,300 nmi". Still 200 nmi short,especially factoring in headwinds,excursion around bad weather etc.This would require SQ to use predominantly premium seats, somewhat reminiscent if the previous A345 service.

elchriss0

elchriss0

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 578

I believe you're mistaking nautical miles and statute miles.  Singapore to Newark is less than 8300 nautical miles, while the 778 has, as you said, 9300 nautical miles.  So that extra 1000 nautical miles of aircraft range should cover the headwinds and diversions.

StudiodeKadent

StudiodeKadent

20 May 2015

Total posts 584

Actually, Boeing recently revised down their jet's range. For a long time they've been using an extremely forgiving set of assumptions about the range of their jets, and now they've switched to a more realistic set.

777-8x now has a range of 8 700 nmi... so it does fall short of the range SQ needs.

That said, if SQ ran an all-premium service, the 777-8x's range probably would creep up significantly... maybe not to 9300nmi but I'd presume 9000nmi would be likely.

GregXL

GregXL

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 395

Any chance Airbus are pitching this to Qantas? Would be surprised if they give up on winning the business from the 787 until that deal is truely done.

StudiodeKadent

StudiodeKadent

20 May 2015

Total posts 584

QF have already said they looked at the A350 and decided on the 787. They have 50 options for the 787-9 at bargain-basement prices, and the A350-LR would take a lot longer to arrive (the 787-9 could be arriving in 2017).

In addition, the only route QF have which is genuinely difficult range-wise is the Sydney/Dallas route. A380s are presently handling that and a 777-8x could handle it with more ease (since the -8x has 200nmi extra range even under realistic assumptions).

I know some people have an attachment to specific aircraft manufacturers, but QF already have their mid-size jet picked out. Its going to be the 787-9 Dreamliner. Its frankly the better aircraft for QF. This doesn't mean Airbus is "bad" or anything... merely that due to market and geography and various other reasons the Dreamliner is a better choice for Qantas than the A350.

jubbing

jubbing

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 205

Not bad Singapore Airlines, you essentially got them to make a plane just for you (or rather modify)!

Billy

Billy

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 2

This will end up just like the -500s....with very low residual value of this highly specialized aircraft killing the economics eventually.  Those old birds were built for such low cycle count that even compared to other A340s (all squishy values)...they were the worst of the lot.  

Not saying SQ won't launch this if they get the plane spec'd...I think they will launch it....the old routes had great yields.  However, ten years hence, they'll again have a fleet of nearly worthless aircraft.  

Shoudy Chen

Shoudy Chen

Qantas

13 Jun 2015

Total posts 143

Singapore to New York is 15500km so this would be more than enough to fly non stop without having to refuel using a B777x so this would be much longer than a proposed BA flight from Heathrow to Perth. 

elchriss0

elchriss0

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 578

people seem to be mixing nautical and statute miles...like using statue miles for distance between points then comparing it to nautical mile range of aircraft or vice versa

Billy

Billy

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 2

The old flights to EWR and LAX were nonstop, not direct.  The flight to IAH is direct.  

There is an important difference. 

findjeremy

findjeremy

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

10 Sep 2012

Total posts 19

Hope this means a possible direct from SIN to SFO..although it's nice to get out and stretch in HK etc I would definitely prefer a direct flight (preferably A380 Suites ;)

Herb33

Herb33

Air Canada - Aeroplan

02 Sep 2015

Total posts 11

There is very limited demand for extreme ranges like SIN-EWR. People seem to forget that the A340-500 was developed in a different era for ETOPS, where 4 engines were essential for long overwater routes. When the existing limit was raised by 15% at Boeing's request this effectively killed the 345. But there have been very few sales of 777-200LR either, I think just over 50 sales, but this became the basis of the 200F. It would seem that by cutting payload and selling more high value seats Airbus should be able to provide a 350 LR without a major development program.

ads086

ads086

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Apr 2014

Total posts 43

The interesting part of this will be just how much do they need to modify their existing design? Do they need to go through the hassle of another certification round, or can the FAA and EASA sign it off based on the drawings since it's just a modification to an existing approved design?

ads086

ads086

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Apr 2014

Total posts 43

Another thought: If a 900ULR can be easily refitted to return to 900 standard, can an existing 900 be retrofitted to become a 900ULR?

AJT_

AJT_

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Oct 2015

Total posts 16

Maybe Qantas could could convert some 787 options to 777-8X orders and fly SYD - JFK, MEL - DFW and PER - LHR? And regain the title of the worlds longest commercial flight

Jedinak K

Jedinak K

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 211

They're not going to buy planes to get bragging rights. If there's a business case for it they will pursue it. Besides for ultra long haul flights it will be heavily dependent on the business loads for revenue. Either way Economy passengers comes out the losers, having to be stuck in 31-32 inch seating for 20 something hours.

patrickk

patrickk

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 395

AJT they will be doing two of those fligths with 789s in a couple of years (2017 so they say) so no need for the 777-8X which they will probably uses post 2022 or so..

Herb33

Herb33

Air Canada - Aeroplan

02 Sep 2015

Total posts 11

It is interesting to compare fuel capacity for the A350ULR and  the A340-500. From Airbus web site the A345 had a max TOW of 380 tones and fuel capacity of 215,260 litres while the A350-900 hasTOW of 268 tonnes and fuel capacity for ULR is 165,000 litres. .This shows thr great improvement over a generation, due to both airframe and engine developments. These numbers suggest about a 25% reduction in fuel for very long flights. If Airbus can pack more fuel in the ULR without making major changes it would look like a winner.

TomGoddardd

TomGoddardd

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Dec 2014

Total posts 286

QF should get a couple of these and fly from PER to European cities out of reach

elchriss0

elchriss0

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 578

With a capacity on 170 seats I reckon they will have a similar config to what they used to have when they first started the service in 2004 (executive economy in their A345s).  It is likely that they will have premium economy in the rear section.

F-Flyer

F-Flyer

11 Aug 2015

Total posts 23

I think they need to order more of this varient so they can add services to the US cities it already serves and can open multiple new cities in the US. There is so much demand for SQ into the US as they are a top notch airline. But don't get me wrong, they are on the right track with these 7 aircraft.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Singapore Airlines: non-stop USA flights with long-range A350