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Following the launch of Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A350 flights to Amsterdam, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta in early 2016, the airline could send its A350s to Sydney, Melbourne and Perth – just don't expect them to be locked into a regular schedule.
Speaking with Australian Business Traveller at a media briefing in Toulouse, Singapore Airlines’ Senior Vice President for Product & Services Mr Tan Pee Teck shared that “certainly North Asia and South West Pacific (are) potentially both on the cards, it’s a very versatile aircraft.”
Tan confirmed the airline's plan to see the advanced A350s replace its ageing Boeing 777-200 and Boeing 777-300 jets, although not the Boeing 777-300ERs.
As it currently stands, two of SQ’s daily flights to each of Sydney and Melbourne are served by the to-be-retired Boeing 777-200 or Boeing 777-300 birds, while Perth also sees a daily Boeing 777-200 Singapore Airlines flight.
However, SQ is unlikely to have dedicated A350s serving these markets, instead preferring to fly them on longer routes and using a smaller number of comparatively shorter flights to help fill gaps in the A350s’ roster.
The A350-900 “has the range to do Europe quite easily non-stop (from Singapore),” Tan notes, “so we do see it replacing some of the long-haul routes and introducing new ones in the years ahead… but it certainly would be wasted to use that (solely) as a ‘regional’ aircraft.”
SQ: upgrades to Brisbane, Adelaide flights?
For Brisbane and Adelaide residents, Tan concedes that the angled-flat seats on the airline’s Airbus A330s “probably don’t compete as well with a lie-flat product” such as the Qantas Business Suite, but that “it’s done fairly well... (and the aircraft has) a pretty decent density of seats.”
“Of course it’s our plan to upgrade our products,” he continues. “The A330s are largely on lease with us so they will be replaced in due course.”
But with any new business class seat comes the issue of capacity, as more favourable business class layouts with fully-flat beds and direct aisle access typically take up more floor space on board – reducing the number of seats available to business class passengers during peak times.
“For a lot of business travellers, what’s important is being able to get onto the plane… and even with an inclined flat seat customers manage to get themselves comfortable in the seat,” Tan adds.
“We just have to make sure that the product in the cabin doesn’t age prematurely and keeps looking fresh… and continue with the signature SQ service that kind of keeps the customers coming back”.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Toulouse as a guest of Singapore Airlines and Airbus.
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