As we correctly predicted last month (see online news December 4, 2009) SIA has confirmed it will soon launch A380 services to Zurich, Switzerland.
From March 28, daily A380 flights will, as we suggested, replace the existing 12 times a week service by B777-300ERs.
The superjumbo will be rostered for SIA’s prime flights on this route which are SQ346 out of Singapore at 0110 and into Zurich at 0800, and SQ345 which returns from Zurich at 1200 and arrives back in Singapore the next morning at 0605. Both flights are main connectors into and out of Asia and Australasia.
SIA says that the new service is subject to Zurich airport being certified for A380 flights. So to this end, Airbus is sending up one of its factory A380s from Toulouse on January 20 to test the airport facilities.
When Business Traveller spoke to Zurich recently, the airport authority was confident there would be no problem. The main issue centres around ground handling. The A380 will use Pier E whose gate area is fitted with two rather than three airbridges for passengers to board and leave the plane. Normally the third airbridge would connect the gateroom area with the A380’s upper deck enabling business class passengers to board separately.
“We believe three airbridges are not essential for A380 ground handling. Having two [airbridges] is really a quality issue,” says an airport spokesperson. There are plans to construct a third airbridge but the timescale would be between 12 and 18 months.
There is a downside to A380 operation in that Swiss travellers will now have one daily SIA flight to Asia rather than two. In compensation there is the kudos of flying the A380 with its premium products like the suites in first class and the spacious fully flat bed business class seating disposed only four across (1-2-1) on the upper deck.
Bear in mind too that Zurich’s catchment area covers not just the rest of Switzerland. It also extends into southern Germany and northern Italy. So travellers in other areas will benefit from A380 service at Zurich.
For more information visit singaporeair.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter