Singapore Airlines plans year-round A350 flights to Australia

By Chris Chamberlin, October 17 2016

Singapore Airlines plans to fly the Airbus A350 aircraft to Australia year-round, but won’t give any hints as to when that will occur.

Speaking with Australian Business Traveller at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, Singapore Airlines’ Divisional Vice President Public Affairs, Nicholas Ionides, affirmed that while the current temporary Singapore-Melbourne A350 flights “were only meant to be for a few months”, more permanent A350 services will follow.

“Naturally with 67 (A350) aircraft on order and 60 being the A350-900, it will end up in Australia at some point,” Ionides continues, assuring that while “I can’t give you a firm time right now, it’s (indeed) going to go permanently to Australia.”

Flying a predominantly long-range aircraft on medium-range routes like Singapore-Australia presents efficiency concerns for Singapore Airlines, because operating a return service to Australia doesn’t then provide enough time in the day for the aircraft to also visit a long-haul port.

“That’s why you see Johannesburg, Dusseldorf, Amsterdam and San Francisco converting to the A350 first,” Singapore Airlines’ Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing, Campbell Wilson, explains to Australian Business Traveller.

“Clearly, for efficiency, you route the aircraft around short, medium and long haul to make sure they’re in the air most of the time, so I think Australia would likely be… I wouldn’t say de-prioritised, but the first priority will be the long-haul services,” Wilson elaborates.

Plans for new medium-haul Singapore Airlines Airbus A350s

Wilson continues to explain that as more A350s join the Singapore Airlines fleet, the airline would be in a position to grant “early retirement” to a number of Airbus A330 and Boeing 777-200 aircraft which currently serve Australia.

That’s why a new ‘medium-haul’ configuration of the Airbus A350 is on the cards, which would be better-aligned to SQ’s shorter flights, including those between Australia and The Lion City.

“It is correct to say that we are looking at a medium-haul configuration for the Airbus A350, but what that is exactly, we’ll share at the appropriate time,” teases Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong.

Wilson confirms that those aircraft would indeed house “a slightly different configuration” to the current batch of A350s, and that “the product will likely be released next year” when Singapore Airlines begins taking delivery of its newest batch of Airbus A380 superjumbos.

Ionides hints that the first medium-haul configured A350 will take wing in 2018, around the same time that the airline also becomes the proud owner of new Boeing 787-10s – but whether Australia will prove the first destination for the medium-haul A350s remains to be seen.

Also read:

Chris Chamberlin is visiting Toulouse as a guest of Singapore Airlines and Airbus.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 220

Good scoop. It is interesting to hear the kind of decisions they face with organising their fleet.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 340

Please don't install those horrible angled seats to these "medium haul" a350s. I would rather fly the "old" 772s but with flat beds that we Brisbanites received with much gratitude from the mercy of the SIA fleet management. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Feb 2015

Total posts 130

It would also be good to retain the PE cabin on the medium haul ones. They are a great option for flights up to 8 hours when it's not quite long enough for a full night sleep, instead a snooze in a bigger seat would be just fine.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

06 Apr 2012

Total posts 89

Couldn't agree more. Particularly when you are flying back to Australia via Singapore from a European destination. Having PE all the way through would be ideal.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2016

Total posts 108

Looking forwrd to it!

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 412

Actually the 787-10 from 2018 would make more sense than a A359, as it is more a regional jet optimised for those shortish (<8 hours) stages, unless the A359 is going onto Europe like the A380s tend to do. 

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

@patrickk:

"787-10 from 2018 would make more sense than a A359, as it is more a regional jet optimised for those shortish (<8 hours) stages."

It is.  However, my gut feeling is that SQ fleet plan all along intend the 78J to primarily replace 333 and all remaining regional config 772(i.e. those without horizontal flat bed J).  It basically means these mission types today where SQ deploys 2-class config:

1.  SQ routes anywhere in Asia or AU with light demand for J fare(Not demand for FFP redemption).  It should be noted that despite being more optimized for 'regional' missions, a 78J @ full payload can still fly further than a 333.

2.  Asia or AU trunk routes with high demand for J fare but deployment only for off-peak hrs frequencies(either or both directions).

I predict all 78J @ SQ will hv only 2-class config....these birds are intended for hops as short as the 1hr SIN-KUL.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 253

I would love to see the A350 (Long or medium haul) to BNE so we had a PE option to SE Asia.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2015

Total posts 126

I bet Adelaide will be seeing the A350 at some point. SG has been pretty successful in Adelaide. 

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

@aldrigsomandre:

"I bet Adelaide will be seeing the A350 at some point."

Or the 78J if we're talking about SQ?  The cabin config type deployed consistently by SQ today in SIN-ADL mkt provides a strong clue.....

Either way for SQ in ADL(Or any AU airport), it's 100% bye bye 333 in a few yrs time....


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Mar 2016

Total posts 169

Don't know, A350 was a gamble that didn't pay off for QR in ADL! Hope they switch it to Melbourne  

Excited by all these stories. Options out of most AU capitals are going from strength to strength. A380s, dream liners and A350 offer so much in terms of comfort, it's great to think we'll almost have our pick of them within a few years. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 583

somehow i don't think the people in Y would agree with the 787 being more comfortable or even the A350...I much prefer the 3-3-3 offered in their 77Ws with 19inch width

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Mar 2016

Total posts 169

Sorry, not the sort of comfort I meant, I should've been more specific. In terms of air quality, humidity levels and effective cabin altitude, they're more comfortable. For people with medical conditions, or even busy travellers heading for meetings, these things can make a big difference!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Mar 2016

Total posts 169

Looks like the A350 is heading back to MEL but only for a July - September season, replacing the A380 flight that leaves MEL at midnight.

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