Singapore Airlines switches Cairns to an Airbus A350

The move delivers an additional 30 business class seats on every flight.

By Chris Ashton, March 28 2024
Singapore Airlines switches Cairns to an Airbus A350

Singapore Airlines is giving Tropical North Queensland an aircraft supercharge this month, with the current five-times-weekly Boeing 737 MAX 8 to Cairns switching out for a larger, more spacious Airbus A350 on March 31.

At the same time, frequency slips back to four per week, though the almost doubled capacity of the A350 – that is, 303 seats versus just 154 – more than makes up for the loss.

In business class, that takes the form of 40 ‘regional’ seats in a roomy 1-2-1 layout, each converting to a fully-flat bed, compared to just 10 business class seats on the Boeing 737.

Singapore Airlines' A350 business class is now bound for Cairns.
Singapore Airlines' A350 business class is now bound for Cairns.

  • SQ203 takes off from Singapore every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:40am, arriving in Cairns at 5pm.
  • SQ204 sees wheels up from Cairns at 6:15pm those same four days, touching down in Singapore at 10:40pm.

Creature comforts in business include an 18-inch HD screen plus AC and USB ports within easy reach; passengers will also enjoy Singapore Airlines’ signature in-flight dining experience.

While Cairns lacks a Star Alliance lounge for frequent flyers and business class passengers at present, those flying out of Singapore can take advantage of the airline’s swish, flagship SilverKris business class lounge in Terminal 3.

The SilverKris business lounge is perched on the upper level of Changi Terminal 3.
The SilverKris business lounge is perched on the upper level of Changi Terminal 3.

SQ’s Tropical Queensland change comes the same day as Perth locks in four flights per day – two on an Airbus A350 and the remainder on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Although still early in the piece, 2024 is shaping up to be a busy one for Singapore Airlines, with the Star Alliance member also bringing its Brisbane four flight a week increase forward from November to August.

From March 31, Singapore Airlines’ offers 128 flights a week between Singapore and Australia, with stops in Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 382

Belly must be absolutely chockers full of freight to necessitate that change.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2014

Total posts 27

And this is the reason why the Krisflyer program beats the QFFF program hands down!...meanwhile QF - 2 flights from Sydey (A380/A330) and Melb (A330) and I think 1 from Perth on a 737 and Brisbane 1 (A330). Cairns/Adelaide 0. And all flights back from Singapore are within a 3-4 hour window...I find the SQ flights from Europe with the single overnight far less taxing on the body.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 316

Surely it’s time Cairns International Airport got itself some sort of business lounge, the days of it being a leisure only destination are long gone and more demand for business class is clearly evident. 

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 May 2018

Total posts 11

With 128 flights a week from Singapore to 7 Australian cities, combined with Air New Zealand's flights between New Zealand and Australia, a sound financial argument could almost be made for Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines to start a 50/50 joint venture domestic airline within Australia. And each of the 6 Australian states would be tripping over themselves to provide tax concessions and other incentives for such an airline to be based in their particular state. Singapore Airlines would feed in traffic from Europe and Asia, and Air New Zealand would feed in traffic from Nth America.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1197

I think NZ and SQ have tried this before with both Ansett and Virgin but NZ really can't afford or manage it.  SQ has lost a fair bit of money in trying to get a domestic foothold in Australia and probably now sees other markets such as India as being more profitable.  If SQ was super-keen, an investment in Virgin remains the easiest option but I think it unlikely ATM.

Singapore Airlines already has great coverage of all Australian cities so its need for domestic feed is actually pretty small. 

Anyway, setting up a domestic operation is not that easy given terminal access is limited.  Apart from a few airports that have some Common User Gates, most domestic gates are already committed to Qantas or Virgin.  The other option is operating domestic services from international terminals which is time consuming, more expensive and getting increasingly hard with major Australian international terminals in places like SYD and MEL already over capacity.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 323

Singapore has done that twice with Tiger Airways and Virgin Australia, plus Singapore had an indirect involvement with Ansett Australia through Air New Zealand.  They would've lost billions on those three investments, and can't see them doing a 4th go.  Plus Singapore's records in investments isn't much better than Etihad's with a large amount of overseas investment failures with their only exceptions at this stage being their Indian investments.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 385

Singapore Airlines would need Air NZ to do that if they really wanted too. It would also likely be easier doing a takeover of VA. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 323

Whilst NZ are majority owned by the NZ Government, I can't see that happening even if the other shareholders actually wanted to do so. 

Plus NZ and SQ's history with Australian investments isn't very good, with the former still heavily blamed in the Ansett fiasco as the then-sole owner and SQ's joint involvement with the other shareholders in running VA 1.0 into the ground financially.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 967

Don't forget they have tried this, Tiger was one and Ansett was another.

But I think a bigger game is being played at the moment.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 967

Way to go Singapore!!!!  It says a lot about the future planning.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1197

Good growth again from Australia's other international airline.

14 Nov 2015

Total posts 42

Noticed this a week ago and used it to snag 4x J award seats home from Singapore in peak of January 2025 holiday period.  Overnight in Cairns and leisurely domestic back to Brisbane the following day. With a 5yo and 2 yo, way better than a direct Y flight. 

Etihad - Etihad Guest

10 Apr 2019

Total posts 13

Hmmm I’d disagree. Sounds like way more effort than it’s worth. 

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 673

I'm sure the other J pax are thrilled there will be a 2 and 5 year old on their flights.

19 Dec 2022

Total posts 6

And the best Qantas can do is an 18 year old clapped out A330 out of Brisbane to Singapore give me a break

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 464

I could be wrong here but most of the VA flights have a SQ code on it within Australia.I would be most interested to see how many Adelaide people on the way home opt for the daytime Singapore to Perth flight clear customs and immigration then recheck their luggage for the domestic sector home on the last flight of the day which would get one into Adelaide while the people who opt for the nonstop are still in the airport at 8pm or 9pm that night.

Quite amazing that even Cairns can support regular A350s! Australia really does punch above its weight when it comes to flight services and choices.

14 Nov 2015

Total posts 42

Just happened to be speaking to a customer of mine who is a local and frequent contractor at Cairns Airport. He mentioned in passing that he has recently installed some technical equipment in “the Singapore Airlines lounge”. 

I’d rate this as a 95%+ indication that SQ are indeed opening a lounge. This customer of mine is not an avgeek and I’m not very familiar with the layout of the international terminal, so I didn’t ask for any more details  


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