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Singapore Airlines has confirmed that its forthcoming ultra-long range Airbus A350 fleet will likely be a two-class offering when they begin non-stop flights to Los Angeles and New York in 2018.
However, the Star Alliance member hasn't revealed if the two-class layout means business class will be topped by a luxe first class cabin or sit ahead of a compact premium economy zone (or even, gasp, economy!).
While admitting the A350-900ULRs are “likely to be a two-class aircraft”, the airline’s Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing, Campbell Wilson, told Australian Business Traveller "we haven’t decided on the number of seats, nor have we decided on the exact cabin configuration… that’s still being nailed down."
An Airbus spokesman has previously advised Australian Business Traveller that Singapore Airlines’ long-legged A350 will have around 170 seats – approximately 80 less than its new standard-issue A350-900s.
SQ's two-class layout would likely see most of the cabin space given over to business class.
Singapore Airlines previously ran non-stop flights from Singapore to Los Angeles and NY-adjacent Newark on older Airbus A340 jets but axed the service in 2013 due to rising fuel bills.
Those A340s were initially fitted with 64 international business class seats and 117 'executive economy class' seats, the later being more akin to domestic business class in width and legroom, although in their final years of flying the jets were upgraded to an all-business class 100 seat layout.
Singapore Airlines Airbus A350ULRs: New York, Los Angeles, then..?
Singapore Airlines’ current order book of seven Airbus A350-900ULRs ultimately allows the carrier to serve one more non-stop destination in North America, apart from Los Angeles and New York.
Wilson explains that the airline is currently considering both San Francisco and “another North American point”, following the airline's launch of ‘regular’ Airbus A350-900 flights to San Francisco.
That’s because the non-stop Singapore-San Francisco route is only possible with a “slight payload restriction” on the standard Airbus A350-900 aircraft – which means fewer paying passengers on board, less cargo and baggage carried underneath, or even all of the above.
Switching that route to the A350ULR version would solve that problem but reduce opportunities elsewhere, “so we’ve got the flexibility of whether we do that, or whether we deploy the ULR to another place,” says Wilson.
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Chris Chamberlin travelled to Toulouse as a guest of Singapore Airlines and Airbus.