Singapore Airlines will add a medium-range Airbus A350 to its fleet from 2017, with less emphasis on premium seating than the initial tranche of 10 A350s to be delivered this year.
"The first batch that we have for 2016 are long-haul" says Singapore Airlines regional vice-president Mr Tiow Kor Tan, with the jets mainly to appear on "Singapore-Europe and Singapore-North America routes."
Those A350s will be configured with 42 business class seats and 24 in premium economy, along with 187 economy seats.
However, a second wave of A350s to arrive from 2017 will be geared towards what Singapore Airlines' terms as medium-haul routes, including services to Australia.
"The medium-range configuration will not be too different from what we have for long-haul" Tan tells Australian Business Traveller, adding that "eventually all (of Singapore Airlines) A330s will be replaced with the A350 medium-haul aircraft in 2017-18-19"
Reflecting passenger demands on the relatively shorter flights of up to eight hours, the medium-range A350s are likely to see fewer business class seats and a larger economy cabin.
Singapore Airlines is also considering if some of the medium-range A350s might sport the airline's next-generation business class, due in 2017 for the Airbus A380 and in 2018 for the ultra-long range A350.
"We will see a new product for the A380, so for the medium-haul A350 either we go with the same generation (as today) or we may even have some that go to the new product," Tan suggests. "We have to see which markets we are serving, where we will see one configuration or even two."
That ultra-long range A350, for which Singapore Airlines is to date the sole customer, will fly non-stop from Singapore to Los Angeles and New York, fitted with around 170 seats compared to just over 250 passengers in SQ's long-range A350-900.
Singapore Airlines CEO Mr Goh Choon Phong last year told Australian Business Traveller that unlike the 'all business class’ model of SQ's previous non-stop Airbus A340 flights, the layout for the long-legged jets "will probably be more than just business class, I think it will be a mix of cabin classes."
This is likely to see a mostly business class configuration bookended by small first class and premium economy cabins.
More great Airbus A350 reads on Australian Business Traveller
- Innovative Airbus A350 first class cabin concept revealed
- Singapore Airlines' next Airbus A350 routes – Milan, Barcelona, Sao Paulo?
- Inside Cathay Pacific's all-new Airbus A350
- Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 bound for Auckland in 'second half of year'
- Review: Finnair Airbus A350 business class
- Cathay Pacific nixes first class for Airbus A350-1000
- Behind the scenes of Cathay Pacific's Airbus A350 countdown
- The Airbus A350's secret loft where cabin crew relax and sleep
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.