Singapore Airlines confirms plans for two-class Airbus A350ULR

Singapore Airlines confirms plans for two-class Airbus A350ULR

Singapore Airlines has confirmed that its forthcoming ultra-long range Airbus A350 fleet will likely be a two-class offering when they begin non-stop flights to Los Angeles and New York in 2018.

However, the Star Alliance member hasn't revealed if the two-class layout means business class will be topped by a luxe first class cabin or sit ahead of a compact premium economy zone (or even, gasp, economy!).

While admitting the A350-900ULRs are “likely to be a two-class aircraft”, the airline’s Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing, Campbell Wilson, told Australian Business Traveller "we haven’t decided on the number of seats, nor have we decided on the exact cabin configuration… that’s still being nailed down."

An Airbus spokesman has previously advised Australian Business Traveller that Singapore Airlines’ long-legged A350 will have around 170 seats – approximately 80 less than its new standard-issue A350-900s.

SQ's two-class layout would likely see most of the cabin space given over to business class.

Also read: Can Singapore Airlines' Airbus A350 redefine long-range flying?

Singapore Airlines previously ran non-stop flights from Singapore to Los Angeles and NY-adjacent Newark on older Airbus A340 jets but axed the service in 2013 due to rising fuel bills.

Those A340s were initially fitted with 64 international business class seats and 117 'executive economy class' seats, the later being more akin to domestic business class in width and legroom, although in their final years of flying the jets were upgraded to an all-business class 100 seat layout.

Also read: Singapore Airlines' ultra-long range A350 flights more about sleep than speed

Singapore Airlines Airbus A350ULRs: New York, Los Angeles, then..?

Singapore Airlines’ current order book of seven Airbus A350-900ULRs ultimately allows the carrier to serve one more non-stop destination in North America, apart from Los Angeles and New York.

Wilson explains that the airline is currently considering both San Francisco and “another North American point”, following the airline's launch of ‘regular’ Airbus A350-900 flights to San Francisco.

That’s because the non-stop Singapore-San Francisco route is only possible with a “slight payload restriction” on the standard Airbus A350-900 aircraft – which means fewer paying passengers on board, less cargo and baggage carried underneath, or even all of the above.

Switching that route to the A350ULR version would solve that problem but reduce opportunities elsewhere, “so we’ve got the flexibility of whether we do that, or whether we deploy the ULR to another place,” says Wilson.

Also read:

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Toulouse as a guest of Singapore Airlines and Airbus.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business 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!
 

18 comments

  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    19 Oct, 2016 08:30 am

    I thought the original seats were the old 747 style spaceseats...not A380 style
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  • chap6595

    chap6595

    19 Oct, 2016 08:32 am

    I wonder if they would do a Dallas or even Atlanta to try and connect to a dub, or do they go to Chicago?
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  • mangoface

    mangoface

    19 Oct, 2016 08:44 am

    Dallas and Atlanta have little to no United presence. Chicago is much better.
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  • FLX

    FLX1

    19 Oct, 2016 12:54 pm

    @mangoface:
    Fully agree.  Among U.S. *A hubs aside fm EWR /LAX /SFO, ORD is the most logical choice for 359ULR deployment by SQ.  Issues re other *A hubs:

    DEN=
    OD mkt to/fm SIN almost non-existent and too few connecting options.

    IAH=
    Familiar territory for SQ as it has been here for nearly a decade.  However, intercon demand in this mkt is stagnating thx to the recent global energy industry downturn and a sudden influx of many new foreign players(CA, NH, BR, EK and QR) over the past few yrs are not helping load factor.  Even UA has been downsizing here.

    IAD=
    UA downsizing here is even more dramatic than IAH over the past few yrs losing connecting options.  Industry impression is that UA is favoring EWR over IAD.

    DFW and ATL are 'dead end' hubs re connecting opportunities for any *A carrier such as SQ.  In fact, they're famously known as 'fortress hubs'(i.e. most difficult for enemies to enter) for competing alliances OW and ST.
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  • SH Tan

    adelguy

    19 Oct, 2016 03:44 pm

    My guess is ORD or SEA.
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  • ajstubbs

    ajstubbs

    19 Oct, 2016 08:47 am

    Surely they would opt for J and PE? J and F is very risky even for a popular business route especially given SQ J in its own right is excellent. 
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  • GregXL

    GregXL

    19 Oct, 2016 10:28 am

    If you made a A359 all J, would you fit in 170 seats?  I am thinking no, so the 2 classes are more likely J & PE, rather than F & J.
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  • FLX

    FLX1

    19 Oct, 2016 01:24 pm

    @GregXL:
    "If you made a A359 all J, would you fit in 170 seats?"

    Actually, it probably would if SQ fleet history is a guide:
    1.  That good old 345 was configured in 170 J seats right b4 retirement.
    2.  The J seat design used on 345 consumed similar cabin floor area as SQ's latest J on current 359...both are in 1-2-1 config.
    3.  Per Airbus specs, 359(291 m2) actually has a slightly larger total usable cabin floor area than the 345(289 m2).

    So if 2-class means J+PY, SQ's 359ULR can probably be configured @ close to 200seats.

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  • FLX

    FLX1

    19 Oct, 2016 01:32 pm

    @GregXL:
    Sorry I take it back as I got confused between the older(2-class) vs newer(J only) cabin layout/seat maps for SQ's 345.

    Upon retirement, SQ's 345 was configured with only 100 J seats, not 170.  So you are right, 359ULR is physically very unlikely to be able to hold 170 J seats.
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  • FrequentFlyer

    FrequentFlyer

    19 Oct, 2016 12:11 pm

    My money would be on J and PE but regardless, that's certainly going to be a LOT of business class seats!
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  • FLX

    FLX1

    19 Oct, 2016 01:01 pm

    "An Airbus spokesman has previously advised Australian Business Traveller that Singapore Airlines

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  • Flossygirl

    Flossygirl

    19 Oct, 2016 03:52 pm

    I have two Qantas complimentary guest passes supplied by my Bank.  If I gave them to my daughter who is travelling next month will they allow her access, does anyone know?
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  • GregXL

    GregXL

    19 Oct, 2016 05:22 pm

    Flossygirl, your question should be asked in the discussions area, which you can access via Community, choose a subject and then Start a Discussion.  I intend doing what you have described, but just assumed it is legitimate.  I will be interested to see what answers you get!
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    19 Oct, 2016 06:32 pm

    ^^ What Greg said. Flossygirl, we welcome users to ask questions, but they need to be asked in the relevant area. Normally that question would have been removed, but Greg's instructions may prove useful to you, and to others wishing to ask their own question. :)
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  • Arcanum

    Arcanum

    20 Oct, 2016 11:06 am

    Did they specifically say "another North American point"?  If so, I wonder if they might be considering Vancouver.

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    20 Oct, 2016 11:54 am

    Hi Arcanum, yes, that's a direct quote. No hints on which North American city was being considered, however, other than the option for San Francisco.
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  • FLX

    FLX1

    20 Oct, 2016 03:53 pm

    @Arcanum:
    "I wonder if they might be considering Vancouver."
    If yes, it won't hv anything to do with 359ULR deployment due to:
    1.  YVR->SIN is over 770km(About 1hr cruise) shorter than SFO->SIN in which SQ has firm plan to launch with std 359(In longhaul cabin config already in service) long before the arrival of 359ULR.  In fact, sector duration for YVR-SIN will be very similar to LAX-MEL.  Logically, YVR-SIN does not need to wait for 359ULR even if SQ is interested.

    2.  On the surface, YVR is a *A dominated hub thx to AC.  However, YVR-SIN is a classic low J demand(And practically near zero F demand) /leisure-heavy mkt which does not gel well with the J dominated cabin config on 359ULR planned by SQ.  Even YYZ-SIN has a better chance to get 359ULR by SQ than YVR-SIN.
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  • JohnB

    JohnB

    24 Oct, 2016 07:11 am

    How much I wish it is ORD?  I could use my credit card points to transfer to Krisflyer and get that 15% mileage discount. SQ, I hope you are listening. Mid-America would be much better served thru ORD than any other airport.
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23 May, 2019 09:26 pm

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