Despite ongoing delays to the Boeing 777-9, Singapore Airlines has increased its order for the next-gen jetliner to serve as the flagship of its post-A380 fleet.
The Star Alliance member will now take 31 Boeing 777-9s, compared to its original order for 20, having converted orders for 14 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners into 11 of the Boeing 777-9 based on "changes in its projected long-term fleet needs beyond FY25/26."
The shuffle is part of a broader deferment of S$4 billion in deliveries from both Airbus and Boeing "over a longer period than originally contracted, with the delivery stream spread out beyond the immediate five years."
The airline says the move will "also recalibrate the rate of introduction of capacity, following the disruption to the demand for air travel as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic."
Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said the revised schedule would still "retain our commitment to operating new generation aircraft that will enable the Group to continue offering greater comfort and innovative products to customers, further drive operating efficiency, and support ongoing efforts to materially lower our carbon emissions."
Here's how the Airbus and Boeing order book for the Singapore Airlines group – which includes low-cost sibling Scoot – now looks:
- Airbus A320 family: 35
- Airbus A350-900: 15
- Boeing 737-8: 31 (note that it's referred to as the Boeing 737-8, not the MAX)
- Boeing 787 family: 20
- Boeing 777-9: 31
Singapore Airlines has already announced the retirement of seven Airbus A380s, representing just shy of 40% of the 19-strong fleet and leaving just a dozen superjumbos to ply its most popular and premium-heavy routes.
The carrier was the prestigious launch customer for the Airbus A380 on October 2007, and from December 2017 added a second tranche of newer A380s sporting upgraded first and business class designs.
However, as with other airlines around the world, Singapore Airlines clearly see the longer-term future of its flagship fleet as resting with fuel-efficient twinjets – in this case the Boeing 777-9, which updates the foundations of the popular Boeing 777 series with modern technology from the Boeing 787.
Boeing rates the 777-9 as capable of carrying up to 426 passengers in a two-class configuration, which would come down to the high 300s in a four-class layout.
In comparison, Singapore Airlines' Airbus A380s house some 457 passengers across two decks – but at the cost of needing to ensure most of those seats are filled, while also burning plenty of fuel through the A380's four engines.
The arrival of Singapore Airlines' first Boeing 777-9 was previously to be in 2024, following a late 2023 debut for launch customer Emirates – the airline has not shared a revised timetable for its Boeing 777-9 delivery, based on this round of deferrals.
When the Boeing 777-9 does arrive, it'll herald the launch of new first class suites and business class seats.
The airline has already showcased its proposed Boeing 777-9 seating to a number of stakeholders and top-tier frequent flyers who signed non-disclosure agreement.
The Star Alliance member's current Boeing 777 first and business class were launched in 2013, which means they'll be over a decade old by the time the 777-9 versions hit the stage.
Sliding privacy doors have been suggested as a key feature of Singapore Airlines' new Boeing 777-9 first class suites, which CEO Goh has previously promised "will be a first class that we believe when we launch (it) will again set industry standards."
Goh has also talked up Singapore Airlines' Boeing 777-9 business class, saying a "quantum leap" is in store.