Singapore Airlines says it will replace the Boeing 777-200 with the Airbus A350-900 on the Singapore-Melbourne-Wellington route from November 1 2019.
The move to bring the A350-900 on the route, announced on Tuesday, comes a little over a year after Airbus conducted some tests on the performance of the aircraft at Wellington Airport.
In June 2018, Airbus brought one of its A350-900 test aircraft to Wellington as part of an evaluation whether the type could potentially operate out of the airport’s runway, which at 2,081m in length is somewhat restrictive in terms of widebody operations.
An amazing picture of our #A350-900 flight test aircraft arriving @WLGAirport in New Zealand yesterday evening. We’ll be doing some short runway trials there over the next few days. pic.twitter.com/zyJspkNJG4
— Airbus (@Airbus) June 4, 2018
VIDEO: A look at the Airbus A350-900 test aircraft landing at Wellington Airport from the AdAndPlanes YouTube channel.
Wellington Airport chief executive Steve Sanderson said Singapore Airlines’ decision to deploy the A350-900 to the New Zealand capital was a vote of confidence in the region.
“Singapore Airlines has been operating out of Wellington for three years and over that period there has been a 35 per cent increase in visitors from Asia,” Sanderson said in a statement on Tuesday.
“This illustrates how popular the service is and we are thrilled with the positive response from travellers.”
Currently, Singapore Airlines flies between Singapore and Wellington, via Melbourne, four times a week with 777-200s configured with 38 business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration and 228 economy class seats at nine abreast.
The equipment change represents a product upgrade for passengers, given the A350-900s to be used on the route has 42 business class seats with direct aisle access, 24 premium economy seats in a 2-4-2 layout and 187 economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration.
While the A350-900 has 13 fewer seats than the 777-200 (253 versus 266), Singapore Airlines had previously announced it was would increase the schedule to five times weekly from January 1 2020, meaning there would be an overall increase in capacity on the route.
The equipment change meant Singapore Airlines would be the only airline offering premium economy out of Wellington.
“We have proudly served the Wellington market since we launched operations here in 2016 and today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to the city and our operations to the capital,” Singapore Airlines general manager for New Zealand Kenny Teo said in a statement.
“It is exciting to become the first airline to operate scheduled commercial services using the A350-900.”
The start of A350-900 flights on the Singapore-Melbourne-Wellington route also ensured Singapore Airlines would be able to offer lie-flat seats in business class to all six destinations in its Australian network – Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney – served with a mixture of Boeing 787-10s and 777-300ERs, as well as Airbus A350-900s and A380s.
“We are very excited to be able to offer our customers a level of product consistency and service across all Singapore Airlines operated services to and from Australia,” Singapore Airlines regional vice president for Southwest Pacific Philip Goh said in a statement.
“From 1 November every one of our 141 weekly flights from our six destinations across Australia will provide customers the opportunity to enjoy a lie-flat Business Class seat, while those travelling from Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra will also have the choice of Premium Economy on every flight.
“Over the past 18 months we have continued to invest in the Australian market, deploying new aircraft to all of our stations across the country.”