Saturday 5 March 2016

SIA heralds new Airbus A350 as 'game changer'

By Karamjit Kaur, Aviation Correspondent, The Straits Times, 4 Mar 2016

Singapore Airlines' first Airbus 350 landed at Changi Airport yesterday, carrying with it the airline's hopes that the new plane will give it enough ammunition to battle key rivals in the long-haul premium market.

As the home carrier, a strong SIA is vital to augment Changi's premier air hub status amid intense competition from neighbouring airports in Hong Kong and South Korea.

Delivery of the First Singapore Airlines A350
Watch the delivery of the first #SingaporeAirA350 from Toulouse to Singapore.
Posted by Singapore Airlines on Saturday, March 5, 2016

With 67 aircraft on order - more than 60 per cent of its current total fleet - SIA is the biggest customer for the A-350-900.

There is a lot riding on the new plane, which SIA chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong repeatedly refers to as the "game changer".

Touted by Airbus to be 25 per cent more fuel-efficient than rival aircraft in the same category, the A-350 will allow SIA to expand its reach in Europe and elsewhere, he said.

With 253 seats in three classes - the fewest among SIA's planes - the A-350 is also optimally configured to achieve high load factors to boost the bottom line, analysts said.

While Emirates, Qatar and Cathay Pacific, among other full-service premium carriers, have been adding new flights and destinations, much of the growth within the SIA group the last few years has been driven by its regional carrier SilkAir and long-haul budget arm Scoot.

Among the frills on SIA's new A350: More headroom, bigger windows and mood lighting that reportedly reduces jet lag. Pictures: Changi Airport welcomes the arrival of the first of SIA's new A350 aircraft.
Posted by The Straits Times on Thursday, March 3, 2016

The A-350 is a key element in SIA's overall capacity growth and fleet renewal strategy, Mr Goh said yesterday after disembarking from the plane he had collected the day before at Airbus' headquarters in Toulouse, France. "Its improved operating efficiency offers us the opportunity to open up even more new routes, providing more travel options to our customers," he said.

SIA, which expects to get 11 of the A-350s this year, will deploy the planes initially on commercial services within Asia for crew training.

It will operate long-haul flights to Amsterdam from May, and Dusseldorf, Germany, from July. More destinations will be added later.

Aviation analyst Shukor Yusof of Endau Analytics said the new aircraft could help SIA "regain some of its lost edge in the market" if well-utilised and marketed.

With so much at stake, it was only fitting that SIA's first A-350 received the grandest of welcomes at Changi Airport's Terminal 3, where it landed. As veteran pilot Quay Chew Eng, SIA's acting senior vice-president of flight operations, taxied the plane to the parking bay, two fire engines were on hand to give the A-350 a water-cannon salute - reserved only for historic aviation moments.

Singapore Airlines' new Airbus A350 is welcomed at Changi Airport with a water salute.
Posted by The Straits Times on Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Inside the gatehold room, the welcoming party led by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and SIA chairman Stephen Lee broke into cheers as the plane landed.

Airbus president and chief executive Fabrice Bregier said he and his team are committed to ensuring that all 67 planes are delivered to SIA in tip-top condition and on time.

From Toulouse, France to Singapore, browse our album and relive the Singapore Airlines A350 delivery experience. Your #UltimateA350Experience awaits:
Posted by Singapore Airlines on Thursday, March 3, 2016

Students from Metta School utterly enjoyed themselves at the arrival of Singapore Airlines’s first #A350! Thank you...
Posted by Community Chest Singapore on Monday, March 14, 2016

A-350 key to SIA's bid to keep flying high
New plane will allow carrier to restart non-stop flights to US and expand network, as it restructures to stay ahead
By Karamjit Kaur, Aviation Correspondent, The Straits Times, 4 Mar 2016

The last time that a Singapore Airlines (SIA) plane had such a grand welcome was in October 2007, when the carrier brought home its first Airbus 380 superjumbo.

It was a historic moment for the airline and, indeed, Singapore. SIA was the first to fly the world's biggest passenger jet.

A similar scene, with cheers, applause and the traditional water cannon salute, was played out at Terminal 3 when SIA's A-350 arrived home yesterday.

But much has changed in the last decade.

While the A-380s play a key role in supporting SIA's operations to major airports in London, Paris, Sydney and New Delhi, among other key cities, it is the A-350 that SIA is betting on to boost its long-haul business.

With 67 jets ordered, it's a huge but necessary US$20.6 billion (S$28.6 billion) investment (at catalogue price).

While rivals like Emirates, Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific have expanded their networks with new flights to new destinations in recent years, the Singapore carrier has not been able to do the same, simply because it did not have the right aircraft to fight back.

The A-350 workhorse, with its superior operational efficiencies, will give SIA a chance to do so.

For one thing, it will allow the airline to resurrect non-stop flights to the United States in 2018.

Services to Los Angeles and New York were axed in 2013 after high fuel costs and weak demand made the flights commercially unviable.

Among SIA's order of A-350s are seven ultra-long-range versions of the jet that will support the Singapore-US flights.

SIA is confident the A-350 is a game-changer, but it is by no means a magic potion. The competition is stiff and will continue to intensify.

While demand for premium travel has held up so far, there is pressure on pricing with a lot of capacity in the market, according to SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong.

And, given the global economic outlook, he said: "We do expect that it will affect business demand at some point."

SIA must stay nimble to respond to changing market conditions.

It is for this reason that the airline has decided to cut the number of ultra first-class suites on its future A-380s.

SIA, which has 19 of the superjumbos in its fleet - each with 12 suites - has five more A-380s still to be delivered.

Efforts are also continuing to build a portfolio of carriers to give the group a presence in all key markets.

Instead of focusing only on premium travel, SIA now has Scoot, which operates long-haul budget flights, and Tigerair, which offers low-cost flights within the region.

The plan is to allow customers to move conveniently from one carrier to another.

Partnering other carriers is also a key part of the overall strategy.

In November last year, for example, SIA and German carrier Lufthansa announced a wide-ranging partnership to operate key routes between Europe and Singapore jointly and to significantly expand codeshare ties and deepen commercial cooperation.

The two carriers also intend to offer joint fare promotions, among other initiatives.

To expand its foothold, SIA also owns about a fifth of Virgin Australia and 49 per cent of New Delhi-based Vistara.

Amid tough times, SIA has taken significant steps in the last five years to restructure the business, in an attempt to keep flying high.

The arrival of its A-350 marks another key milestone in the journey.

The Singapore Airlines A350. Your Ultimate A350 Experience.
Posted by Singapore Airlines on Thursday, March 3, 2016

A special day for our friends at Singapore Airlines as they receive their 1st of 67 #A350 XWB. Get ready to refresh the way you fly! #SingaporeAirA350
Posted by Airbus on Wednesday, March 2, 2016

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