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Asian carrier, Singapore Airlines has selected Airbus’ newly launched Ultra-Long Range version of the A350-900 to relaunch premium non-stop flights from Singapore Changi International Airport to the United States. The airline previously offered flights to both Newark and Los Angeles using the A340-500 but suspended both routes due to retirement of the less-efficient four-engined airlines from its fleet.
Under an amendment to the carrier’s existing order for 63 A350-900s, seven of the aircraft will now be delivered with an Ultra-Long Range capability for flights of up to 19 hours. In addition, the carrier has placed an additional order for four A350-900s, taking its total firm orders for the A350 XWB Family to 67.
Optimised for non-stop flights to the US, the aircraft, designated A350-900ULR (Ultra-Long Range), will include a modified fuel system to increase the fuel carrying capacity, an increase in Maximum Take-Off Weight, plus aerodynamic improvements, enabling service to the US West Coast, as well as to New York.
As a passenger would you prefer a 19 hour direct flight or to make an intermediate stop to break the long journey?
Representing a distance of some 8,700 nautical miles, the New York service will be the world’s longest commercial passenger route, with an expected flight time of up to 19 hours. Moreover, the flexibility offered by the A350 XWB will allow operators to reconfigure their A350-900ULR to the standard long-haul A350-900 specification should they require it.
“Our customers have been asking us to re-start non-stop Singapore-US flights and we are pleased that Airbus was able to offer the right aircraft to do so in a commercially viable manner,” said Goh Choon Phong, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Airlines.
“This is another example of how we strive to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations by remaining at the forefront of product and service innovation in our industry. It will also further strengthen the Singapore hub by providing the fastest and most convenient air connectivity between North America and Southeast Asia,” he added.
Singapore Airlines stated publicly earlier this year that it was looking seriously at the resumption of non-stop flights to the USA. The A350-90ULR will allow this to become a reality and it is believed that like previously with the A340-500, the aircraft will be configured in a premium arrangement for Business passengers.
This likely operational plan was supported by the words of Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer, Fabrice Brégier upon the launch of the new variant: "We are excited to be working with Singapore Airlines to re-launch its premium non-stop service to the US. The A350 is the perfect, flexible platform for such operations, offering unrivalled operating economics for the very longest routes. And the wider and quieter cabin will provide the perfect environment for passengers to enjoy the world-famous Singapore Airlines in-flight product,” he said.
To date, Airbus has recorded a total of 783 firm orders for the A350 XWB from 41 customers. Singapore Airlines is the largest customer for the A350 XWB in East Asia, with deliveries of its 67 aircraft now on order starting in the first quarter of 2016. Deliveries of the carrier’s A350-900ULR aircraft are scheduled to take place in 2018.
Its first standard A350-900 is due to arrive in the first quarter of next year and will enter scheduled service on the Singapore – Amsterdam route by April 2016. After its delivery, tentatively scheduled for January 2016, the aircraft will initially be used on select Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur flights on a temporary basis, for crew training purposes.
“We are very much looking forward to the arrival of the new A350s which will be fitted with our newest-generation cabin products, providing more comfort to our customers. This includes new Business Class, Premium Economy Class and Economy Class seats, and the world’s most advanced in-flight entertainment system,” said Ms Lee Wen Fen, Senior Vice President Marketing Planning, Singapore Airlines.
“Our investment in the A350s is in line with Singapore Airlines’ longstanding commitment to operate a young and modern fleet. The highly efficient new aircraft will offer us the potential to open new routes, enhancing our network and further strengthening the Singapore hub,” she added.
Singapore Airlines expects to take delivery of 11 A350-900s in the aircraft’s first year of operation and additional A350 destinations will be announced in the coming months.