Airbus confirms plans for ultra-long range A350

18 Aug 2015 by Clement Huang

Just months after Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) chief executive Goh Choon Poon revealed his plans to re-launch non-stop flights to the US (see here), Airbus has confirmed that it is working with the airline to develop a long-range variant of the A350-900.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Kiran Rao, Airbus’ executive vice president for strategy and marketing said that changes to the A350’s cabin layout would reduce its weight, thereby extending the range of the aircraft and allowing SIA to fly direct between Singapore and New York while burning 25 per cent less fuel.

The trade-off here is that proposed changes to the cabin’s layout would result in a reduction of the A350’s maximum capacity, which is currently listed by Airbus as 314 passengers in a three-class configuration.

However, Rao revealed that SIA was looking at different cabin layouts.

“I can’t go into details on the type of layouts they’re looking at but it would be a premium service,” said the Airbus executive.

SIA previously operated an all-business class non-stop service to Newark with the A340-500, however, the service was not commercially viable, and the airline was forced to cut Newark from its network.

Part of the reason was due to high fuel requirements of the four-engine aircraft, so a fuel-efficient A350 variant could make this option more viable. 

Another reason was that previously only the A340 and B777-200LR had the legs to operate the route, but SIA has since retired the former from its fleet, and does not operate the latter at all. With 63 A350's on order, and the option for a further 20, it's fair to say a few of these may well be of the long-range variant.

This latest development reiterates comments previously made by Nicholas Ionides, SIA’s vice president of public affairs, about the A350 offering a solution to the airline's long-haul profitability (see here).

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Clement Huang

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