Singapore Airlines is locking in its advanced Airbus A350 jet for a year-round schedule between Melbourne and Singapore starting May 11, 2017.
The sleek jetliner has made a number of short-term appearances on the route, but later this year it'll be running daily as Melbourne-Singapore flight SQ208 and the SQ207 return leg.
Travellers at the pointy end can relax in the Star Alliance member's latest business class seat, evolved from that of the Boeing 777-300ER flagship.
It's an "evolutionary, not revolutionary" approach, reported AusBT's Suzanne Wu from one of the first SQ A350 flights – "and that's not a bad thing. Not a whole lot was broke, so not a whole lot needed fixing."
Melbourne's SQ218/SQ217 is also running on an A350 until June 30, after which it will revert to the Airbus A380 superjumbo.
Asian rival Cathay Pacific already has one Airbus A350 on the Melbourne-Hong Kong route as CX104/105, with a second slotting into CX134/135 from October 29, while Thai Airways says its own on-again off-again Melbourne A350 flights should launch before the year's end.
April sees Singapore Airlines celebrate 50 years of flying to Australia, and is tipped to debut its newest Airbus A380 – fitted with next-generation first class suites and business class seats – on the Singapore-Sydney route in October 2017.
The redesigned first class suites will be fewer in number – down the current superjumbo's 12 to between six and eight – but much larger in footprint, and have been relocated to the upper deck.
Next year will see Singapore Airlines restart direct flights between Singapore and the USA, with both New York and Los Angeles in line for an ultra-long range version of the A350 dubbed the A350ULR.
This long-legged jet will carry all-new business class seats compared to the Melbourne A350, but only around 170 seats – some 80 less than the airline's regular A350-900s – in order to minimise fuel burn and maximise range for the 18-19 hour journey.