Singapore Airlines has commenced Airbus A350-900 operations on its Singapore-Melbourne-Wellington service.
The first flight with the next generation Airbus widebody arrived on Friday, with 9V-SMM touching down as SQ247 a little after 1315 local time at the end of its four-hour journey from Melbourne.
The aircraft received a traditional welcome as it taxied to the terminal and was on the ground for about 80 minutes before operating the reciprocal SQ248 back to Melbourne and then onwards to Singapore.
Having the A350-900 replace the Boeing 777-200 that previously served the route represented a product upgrade for passengers, given the Airbus widebody had 42 lie-flat 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 rather than an older generation cabin on the 777-200s that are gradually being retired.
And while the A350-900 had 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 – from four times a week currently – meaning there would be an overall increase in capacity on the route.
It’s a bitter-sweet day as we say a final farewell to Singapore Airlines’ Boeing 777-200 to make way for the exciting arrival of the A350-900 on Friday!#SQWLGA350#flySQ https://t.co/Uuf3OwDlkj pic.twitter.com/0Am13GkcWs
— Wellington Airport (@WLGAirport) October 29, 2019
Singapore Airlines was also now able to offer premium economy out of Wellington, given the 777-200s were in two-class configuration of business and economy.
“We have been flying to Australia and the wider South West Pacific region for more than 50 years and over that time we have invested heavily to ensure our customers are provided with more flights, better products and greater options,” Singapore Airlines regional vice president Philip Goh said in a statement.
As a result of having the A350-900 on the Singapore-Melbourne-Wellington route, Singapore Airlines was now offering premium economy on every flight to six Australian and New Zealand destinations – Auckland, Canberra, Christchurch, Melbourne, Sydney and Wellington.
Further, it also meant every flight into and out of Australia and New Zealand had lie-flat seats in business class, with a mixture of Boeing 787-10s and 777-300ERs, as well as Airbus A350-900s and A380s flying to Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Canberra, Christchurch, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Wellington.
“This level of product consistency across the region is something we are very proud to deliver and reinforces our longstanding commitment to the Australian and New Zealand markets,” Goh said.
“This year alone we have taken delivery of a new A350-900 or Boeing 787-10 aircraft on average every 13 days.
“Adding these new aircraft to our fleet allows us to deliver our customers access to some of the most technologically advanced aircraft in the sky, all of which are fitted with our latest cabin products.”
The arrival of Singapore Airlines’ first A350-900 in the New Zealand capital followed some tests conducted by Airbus conducted on the performance of the aircraft at Wellington Airport in June 2018.
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
Wellington Airport chief executive Steve Sanderson said Singapore Airlines’ decision to deploy the A350-900 on the route represented a vote of confidence in the region.
“The Singapore airlines service has helped to drive more visitors and business travel to Wellington, making it easier and more affordable, and encouraging new opportunities,” Sanderson said in a statement.
“The route has increased overseas awareness in what the region has to offer and, as a result, has opened up travel itineraries throughout the country.
“The increase to five flights per week is expected to bring more travellers from Asia, which is great news not only for the Wellington economy but the whole of central New Zealand.”
VIDEO: A look at the arrival of Singapore Airlines’ first Airbus A350-900 flight to Wellington from Wellington Airport’s YouTube channel.