Several months ago, Singapore Airlines said it was talking with Airbus about developing a variant of the manufacturer’s new widebody, the A350XWB, so that the carrier could revive non-stop service from Singapore to the U.S., which it had discontinued two years ago. And now Airbus has come through.
Airbus and Singapore announced that the manufacturer has created an ultra-long-range version of the A350-900 that is “optimized for non-stop flights to the U.S.” Singapore plans to launch non-stops to Los Angeles and New York with the plane; the Singapore-New York flight, at 8,700 nautical miles, will be the world’s longest non-stop commercial passenger route, Airbus said, with an estimated flying time of 19 hours.
Singapore already had an order with Airbus for 63 A350-900s, and now seven of those are being converted to the ultra-long-range model, the A350-900ULR. The manufacturer said it was able to manage the longer range for the plane by modifying the fuel system to increase amount of fuel it can carry, increasing the plane’s maximum takeoff weight, and making certain aerodynamic enhancements.
Airbus is scheduled to deliver the first A350-900ULR to Singapore in 2018, with the non-stop U.S. flights starting that same year. “The aircraft will be fitted with all-new cabin products which are currently under development,” Singapore said. “Non-stop flights between Singapore and additional points in the U.S. are also under consideration.”
Before it discontinued the U.S. non-stops to New York and Los Angeles in 2013, Singapore had been using all-business-class (but gas guzzling) A340-500s on the routes.
The first of Singapore’s regular A350-900s is due for delivery next year, and it said it will put the first one into commercial service between Singapore and Amsterdam.
The only airlines currently operating the A350XWB (it stands for extra-wide body) are Qatar Airways and Vietnam Airlines. Finnair just became the third carrier to take delivery of an A350, with plans to put it into regular service on November 21 between Helsinki and Shanghai.
American, Delta and United should be flying the A350 by 2017 or 2018, which could mean more ultra-long nonstops from SFO to Singapore, Bangkok, Vietnam or elsewhere.
What ultra-long route would you most like to fly?
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