SIA joins A350 club

Singapore Airlines' first A350-900 receives a water cannon salute at Changi Airport after its delivery flight. (SIA/Twitter)
Singapore Airlines’ first A350-900 9V-SMA receives a water cannon salute at Changi Airport after its delivery flight. (SIA/Twitter)

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has become just the fifth airline and second in Asia Pacific to take delivery of the Airbus A350.

The carrier’s first A350-900, 9V-SMA, touched down in Singapore a little after 1000 local time on Thursday, following the 12 and a half hour journey from Airbus’s headquarters in Toulouse.

The aircraft was met with a water cannon salute as it taxied to the gate, followed by ceremony at the airport for invited guests and media.

SIA posted a video of the aircraft’s arrival on its twitter account @singaporeair, which can be seen below:

SIA’s first revenue service with the A350 is scheduled to be the SQ 118 from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, with long-haul flights to Amsterdam to commence on May 9.

The Star Alliance member and Virgin Australia major shareholder has 67 A350s-900s on order, including eight ultra long range models that will be used for nonstop flights between Singapore and the United States, restoring flights that were previously operated by A340-500s that were suspended in 2013 due high oil prices.

Singapore Airlines chief executive Goh Choon Phong speaking at Airbus's headquarters in Toulouse before the delivery flight of SIA's first A350-900 9V-SMA. (Airbus)
Singapore Airlines chief executive Goh Choon Phong speaking at Airbus’s headquarters in Toulouse before the delivery flight of SIA’s first A350-900 9V-SMA. (Airbus)

SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong, who was on board the delivery flight, said the A350 would allow the airline to expand its network, give customers more options and maintain a young fleet, given the type’s improved operating economics compared with current generation aircraft.

“The A350 is a key element in our overall capacity growth and fleet renewal strategy,” Goh said in a statement.

“The A350 will be a game-changer for us, allowing for flights to more long-haul destinations on a non-stop basis, which will help us boost our network competitiveness and further develop the important Singapore hub.

“With its arrival, Singapore Airlines is staying true to our longstanding commitment to maintain a young and modern fleet of aircraft.

“The A350 will ultimately enable us to help further enhance the three main pillars of the Singapore Airlines brand promise: service excellence, product leadership and network connectivity.”

SIA's first A350-900, 9V-SMA, at the Airbus's headquarters in Toulouse before its delivery flight to Singapore. (Airbus)
9V-SMA at the Airbus’s headquarters in Toulouse before its delivery flight to Singapore. (Airbus)
Singapore Airlines chief executive Goh Choon Phong stands in front of his airline's first A350-900, 9V-SMA, at the Airbus's headquarters in Toulouse. (Airbus)
Singapore Airlines chief executive Goh Choon Phong stands in front of his airline’s first A350-900, 9V-SMA, at the Airbus’s headquarters in Toulouse. (Airbus)

SIA is the second airline in Asia behind Vietnam Airlines to operate the A350. The carrier was expected to take delivery of 11 A350s in calendar 2016, with a further seven to join the fleet by the middle of 2017.

A seat map published on the SIA website showed SIA’s long-haul configured A350-900s would feature 253 seats comprising 42 in business, 24 in premium economy and 187 in economy.

The chief executive of A350 launch customer Qatar Airways Akbar Al Baker said while the A350 had its teething issues early, the aircraft was operating in line with expectations.

“Yes, we had our problems with the A350 but it was not major. Airbus was very proactive in solving them,” Al Baker told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.

“This aeroplane is continuously performing according to contractual obligations of Airbus.”

TAM and Finnair are also current A350 operators.

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