Airbus' first production A380 super jumbo for Singapore Airlines (SIA) is completed and ready for testing. This week SIA senior management looked over the plane on the A380's final assembly line (FAL) in Hamburg.
This particular A380 is the first of the super jumbos to have the correct interior (the A380s currently flying on test have atypical interiors) and SIA is still keeping the details a closely guarded secret. But according to Airbus, production staff are excited by the results achieved. "We are entering a new world of cabin furnishing," says Peter Hahn, head of the A380's FAL, "the interior looks fantastic and brings a brand new dimension to the onboard experience that SIA can offer its passengers."
The premium seating will be the same design as that already fitted to SIA's new fleet of B777-300ERs and which has been extensively reviewed on this website. And SIA has stated that its A380s will seat no more than 480 passengers on a plane whose theoretical capacity is 555. The airline has also confirmed its A380 interior won't be OTT. Says a spokesman, "What we offer must be economically viable and so passengers will not find amenities like showers and bowling alleys."
What is not clear is the layout SIA will adopt. In business class will SIA still retain the spacious four-across layout seen with its B777-300ERs? In first class will SIA take advantage of the larger cabin to provide its top passengers with facilities like a lounge area and stand-up bar?
SIA's first A380 will make its first flight this summer and will be handed over in October. The airline hopes to operate its first A380 service flight between Singapore and Sydney this December in time for the busy Festive season. It is then expected to make its debut on SIA's flagship Singapore-Heathrow route early in 2008.
Initially the one A380 will operate three flights a week on the route. It's expected to operate SIA's busy overnight flight SQ332 departing from Singapore at 2320 and arriving in Heathrow at 0550. It will return with SQ317 at 1200 reaching Singapore at 0745.
The number of A380-operated flights on the London-Singapore-Sydney route will be stepped up as more planes enter the fleet. And the A380 is set to operate across the SIA network.
Speaking from the UK viewpoint, Marvin Tan, SIA's UK country manager says, "Our long-term plan is to operate A380s on all three of our daily Singapore-London and Singapore-Sydney services. Because each A380 holds 100 passengers more than a B747 it means we can offer as many seats on these routes as provided by four B747 flights."
Report by Alex McWhirter