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A350

Singapore Airlines’ New A350-900 Can’t Come Soon Enough

Singapore Airlines’ New A350-900 Can’t Come Soon Enough

To the delight of the Australians and New Zealanders that frequent the route, Singapore Airlines has announced that it will be utilizing a brand-spanking-new A350-900 on its Wellington – Melbourne – Singapore route (SQ247/SQ248), launched in 2018. The first of its type to visit the New Zealand capital, this is a great development not only for those wanting to link to the rest of the world via Singapore but also those interested in visiting Wellington. This is pretty exciting news for the city, which hosts a notoriously tricky airport beset by wind issues and an extremely short runway.

The Wellington – Melbourne – Singapore route replaces the original ‘Capital Connection’ route, which ran via Canberra on the way to Singapore. Between 2016 and 2018, Singapore Airlines stated that the increase in visitors originating from Asia was a whopping 24%. It’s easy to see why Singapore Airlines have sought to increase their slots from the current four to five a week from January 2020, just a few months after the new aircraft will be brought into service. Depending on the uptake, there is likely to be the option to further utilize additional slots, should the airline wish to.

Source: FlyerTalk Forums

As someone who has recently flown on SQ247/SQ248, the upgrade can’t come soon enough. The route currently utilizes a creaky old Boeing 777-200 that I suspect will soon be put out to pasture. The entertainment system is something out of the early 2000s, is clunky and slow, and offers a limited selection compared to flights on ‘refreshed’ aircraft. Furthermore, 14 hours or so without a USB charger really takes its toll – and accessibility to charging ports is just one of those little luxuries that we have come to expect from long haul air travel. I suspect it’s been even more disappointing for business travelers, who have had to put up with 2006-era angled beds and the same sub-par entertainment system.

Well, all that will change come 1 November 2019. The Airbus A350 is one of the most technologically advanced aircraft taking to the skies today. It is known for hosting advanced fuel technologies, offering a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency than similar aluminum long-haul competitors, and it burns just over 9% less fuel than the Boeing 787-9. These factors allow it to operate with a 25% lower seat-mile cost, just one of its attractive selling points to major operators like Qatar Airways, Malaysia Airways and, of course, Singapore Airlines. With lofty claims that the A350 is to become the flagship of Airbus, replacing the white-elephant of the A380, it’s likely we will see more airlines start to utilize this aircraft.

With a three-class configuration aircraft, flyers will now have the option of purchasing premium economy seats – the first available to fly from Wellington – as well as fully lie-flat beds in business. In terms of passenger comfort, the cabin of the A350-900 is designed to provide more head and shoulder room for passengers, with bigger windows and an extra-wide body. This body means that the A350 actually suits its nine-seat-across configuration, unlike the 787 – which usually results in nine seats crammed into space typically designed for eight seats. Lighting in the cabin is designed to reduce jetlag, and the overall noise level is a lot quiet than its Boeing counterpart.

Image Source: Singapore Airlines

Best of all, the economy class with feature the upgraded in-flight entertainment system that is standard across most of Singapore Airline’s fleet – a welcome addition when you are flying all the way to Singapore, and potentially beyond! All seats in the economy class have a power outlet and a USB port, and an 11-inch touchscreen provides you much-needed amusement during the flight. Singapore Airlines seems to be one of the few airlines that still offer economy class amenity kits, but you’re more likely to receive a small toothbrush, eye mask and sock package on the Melbourne – Singapore leg than from Wellington. At a minimum, I’m looking forward to experiencing the four-way head cushion – a welcome upgrade from the well-used headsets on the current 777-200.

Premium Economy – a welcome addition to Wellington – features a cabin in 2-4-2 layout, along with priority boarding and service. It’s likely that the premium service will feature Singapore Airline’s much-lauded ‘Book the Cook’ dining experience – at least between Melbourne and Singapore – and the 38-inch seat pitch will add much-appreciated comfort to the journey. Seats are relatively wide at 19.5 inches, and the seat comes with an inbuilt calf and footrest.

Image Source: Singapore Airlines

For those of you that are looking to fly business, you’re in luck. The cabin features Singapore Airlines award-winning business class seats in 1-2-1 configuration. The seat offers a 78 inch fully lie flatbed and 18-inch touchscreen entertainment screen, plus two ‘seating’ configurations when in upright mode – the Lazy Z and the Sundeck. Along with premium economy, the Book the Cook service is likely to be available on the longer leg of the flight – with Singapore Airline’s renowned standard meals complementing the Wellington to Melbourne service.

What this means for other operators in the region – such as Air New Zealand – is unknown. Air New Zealand is a close Star Alliance partner of Singapore Airlines, and the new offerings are being presented as an enhancement to current services, rather than a replacement. It may be wishful thinking to hope that Air New Zealand will start to offer business-class services from Wellington – but it will certainly be interesting to see whether the new A350-900 service has any impact on Air New Zealand’s Singapore route.

 

[Image Source: Singapore Airlines]

View Comments (5)

5 Comments

  1. 2old4coach

    September 4, 2019 at 8:43 am

    9% better fuel consumption than a 787-9? Might want to check your facts. Did your information come from Airbus?

  2. CaptRogerMurdoch

    September 4, 2019 at 10:29 am

    Interesting claims about A350-9 versus 787-9. The 9% fuel burn is misquoted, it is actually fuel burn per seat with 9-across economy A350 versus 8-across 787-9. The A350-9 is a slightly larger airplane. For just fuel burn with same payload, 787-9 burns 1-2% less.

  3. weero

    weero

    September 4, 2019 at 11:00 am

    With nearly 60 000lb more maximum take of weight, 15% more thrust and a wider cabin … there is no way that the A350-900 has a ;lower fuel burn than the 787-10.
    It’s just a much nicer aircraft with a bigger cabin. More SQ-esque so to speak.

  4. peterk814

    September 4, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    Lol the nameless author must be a airbus fan. Funny the burn numbers. And yet Boeing is still selling 777-300s.

  5. jrpallante

    September 13, 2019 at 7:19 am

    peterk814 Author? I think you mean “advertising executive.” This is not a news story, just a paid ad for Singapore Airlines.

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