Singapore Airlines confirms Airbus A350 'medium-range' config

Singapore Airlines confirms Airbus A350 'medium-range' config

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.

Read: Inside Singapore Airlines' all-new Airbus A350

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.

Read: Singapore Airlines ultra-long range A350 to have 'all-new' business class

"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."

Read: New Singapore Airlines A380 first class, business class in 2017

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

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6 Comments

  • Bizflyer

    Bizflyer

    9 Jan, 2016 06:15 pm

    I have a feeling they will cut the premium economy and put economy in it's place. Maybe cut 2 rows of business class?

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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    9 Jan, 2016 07:00 pm

    I don't think they'll cut PE for the Australian planes. Virgin Australia have PE on longhauls, and SQ may want some degree of cabin-class consistency with VA. If they have PE, this also allows them to fill a market space that Etihad don't fill (with respect to Kangaroo Route customers).

    Additionally, if SQ have PE and so does CX, it may encourage QF to put PE on routes to Asia as well.

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  • Alex_upgrade

    Alex_upgrade

    9 Jan, 2016 07:21 pm

    SQ have often stated they are conscious of their Premium Economy canibalising demand for their J class, particularly on day flights - where J class beds may not be in such high demand. 

    Perhaps SQ might restrict PE to just those services feeding their Europe connections where the product is popular amongst premium leisure customers given the overall length of the flights.

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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    10 Jan, 2016 02:28 pm

    I can absolutely see why SQ are averse to cannibalizing the demand for beds. I think the strategy you outlined (putting PE only on "feeder" frequencies) makes sense.

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  • Alex_upgrade

    Alex_upgrade

    9 Jan, 2016 07:24 pm

    As great as it would be to see PE on QF to Asia, I doubt we'll see it especially now with the new J class A330 product. QF don't want corporates flying anything but J to Asia, esp Singapore. 

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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    10 Jan, 2016 02:25 pm

    I absolutely agree QF doesn't want PE to cannibalize Business Class demand. But given how comfortable Business Class is these days (seriously, its as good hard-product-wise as First Class a decade ago), surely there's a gap in the market which isn't being served.

    Cathay Pacific are a very corporate-traveller-focused airline too (moreso than Singapore I think), yet they have PE on Australian routes. Cathay indisputably have more corporate traffic than Qantas. CX and QF have similarly-positioned PE products. If PE cannibalized Business demand, surely CX would've been more impacted? Yes, flights to HK are longer than flights to Singapore, but only by one hour or so.

    Perhaps QF should look into an "Economy Plus" product for routes to Asia instead of full Premium Economy. But frankly, there is a big gap between QF's Business (very very good) and Economy (mediocre), and surely there are leisure travellers willing to upgrade from economy.

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3 Dec, 2016 04:55 am

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