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Singapore Airlines upgrades to A350-900s in Cairns

written by Jake Nelson | April 3, 2024

Singapore Airlines A350-900 9V-SHB in Cairns after its inaugural flight from Singapore. (Image: Bang Media)

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has upgraded its four-times-weekly Singapore-Cairns service to a wide-body.

The SQ203/204 service, previously operated by 737 MAX 8s, will now be flown by 303-seat A350-900 aircraft, with the first A350 flight touching down in Cairns over the Easter long weekend on 31 March. Each Singapore A350-900 on the route has 40 business class and 263 economy seats.

“The introduction of the Airbus A350 is a significant investment in the future of this direct major tourism and cargo route, reflecting our confidence in North Queensland’s tourism and trade market,” said Singapore Airlines’ regional vice president, South West Pacific, Louis Arul.

“The new service builds on the almost 10-year history of the SIA Group in Cairns. We are delighted to deliver around 23,000 extra seats as well as an additional almost 2,500 tonnes of cargo capacity per year to North Queensland exporters.”

Cairns Airport is expecting more than 610,000 international visitors this year, including 80,000 travelling via Singapore. Airport CEO Richard Barker said the SIA A350 services will boost passenger and cargo capacity for the region.


“Singapore Airlines already supports 13 per cent of international demand for Cairns travellers, and the new services and increased cargo capacity are a welcome investment in the continuing growth of regional tourism,” he said.

The wide-body services, which will bring in more than 8,300 business-class seats to Tropical North Queensland per year, are estimated to bring a $26.5 million boost to the region’s economy.

Queensland Tourism Minister Michael Healy hailed the upgrade as a victory for the state’s Attracting Aviation Investment Fund.

“Singapore Airlines bringing the A350 widebody aircraft into Cairns is such an important link to our traditional long-haul markets; we’re talking the US, we’re talking Europe and Asia,” he said.

“This increased capacity also provides huge opportunities for our agricultural and aquaculture industries to sell directly into these markets. What that means is we can make flights more economically viable.

“If we can fill the bottom of those planes with fresh produce, and fill the top of them with travellers, it will guarantee that route for a very, very long time.”

Announced last year, the upgrade is part of broader changes to SIA’s Australian routes from March, also including increased capacity to Adelaide, Darwin, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne, to meet a rise in demand for international travel via SIA’s hub at Changi Airport.

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