Up until 2013, Singapore Airlines flew nonstop from Singapore to both Los Angeles and Newark using their A340-500 aircraft. At the time these were the world’s two longest flights, and the planes were in a special all business class configuration, with just 100 seats. Unfortunately Singapore Airlines ended up discontinuing these routes, and they returned the planes to Airbus. A340-500s are gas guzzlers, so I can’t imagine how much money they were losing on those routes.
However, in 2015 Singapore Airlines announced their intentions to restart these routes in 2018, when they take delivery of their A350-900ULR aircraft. While Singapore Airlines already has some A350s in their fleet, they don’t yet have the special “ULR” (ultra long range) variety, which are needed to operate these routes. They’ll be the launch customer for that plane, and have seven of them on order.
This plane is much more fuel efficient than the A340-500, so Singapore has a better shot at making these flights sustainable.
Singapore Airlines A350-900
I’m sure a lot of us have been wondering what the configuration will be like for Singapore’s few A350-900ULR aircraft, given the specific routes they’ll be operating. The economics of ultra longhaul flying are tough, so airlines need to be able to command a price premium to make these routes profitable.
Well, @A350_Production on Twitter (an unofficial but reliable source when it comes to the A350) suggests that Singapore’s A350-900ULR aircraft will feature just 162 seats, including 68 business class seats and 94 premium economy seats. So it sounds like Singapore’s A350-900ULR aircraft won’t feature an economy cabin.
As a point of comparison, Singapore’s standard A350-900 aircraft feature 253 seats, and even that’s a pretty sparse A350 configuration. Other airlines have closer to 300 seats on their A350s.
So Singapore’s A350-900ULR configuration will look very similar to the configuration they had for their A340-500s when they first started service. Initially they had both business class and premium economy, and eventually they cut premium economy and went for an all business class configuration.
Singapore is also rumored to be introducing a new business class product for the A350-900ULRs, so I’ll be curious to see what they come up with.
Are you surprised to see Singapore Airlines go with such a sparse configuration on their ultra longhaul planes?