Singapore Airlines (SIA) collected its sixth Airbus A350-900 from the European manufacturer yesterday, further solidifying a relationship that has spanned nearly 40 years.
The plane, which will be used for SIA's non-stop flights between Singapore and San Francisco from Oct 23, is also the 10,000th aircraft that Airbus has delivered.
At a ceremony at the delivery centre in Toulouse, France, SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong said Airbus aircraft have "contributed greatly" to the airline's successes over the decades. SIA placed its first order in 1979 for the A-300B4 and has operated every model that has been produced - from the A-300, A-310, A-320, A-330, A-340, A-350 and A-380 families.
The airline's order of 67 A-350s makes it the second-largest customer for the plane, behind Qatar Airways' order of 80.
SIA is also the first customer for the ultra-long-range version of the A350-900, which will allow even longer flights from Singapore to Los Angeles and New York in 2018.
Reinstating these non-stop flights to the United States after a three-year hiatus was "something our customers wanted and something that we're eager to reintroduce", said Mr Goh.
Although SIA said last month it would not extend the lease on its first A-380 jet when it expires next year, the airline has ordered five more A-380s to be delivered in the second half of next year.
"Despite (what) some might have speculated, we remain committed to this ultra-large aircraft type," said Mr Goh. He added that the new A-380s "will feature all-new cabin products", without giving details.
SIA has not decided what it will do about the four A-380s it currently has on 10-year leases.
The airline's first A350-900 was launched in March and is used for flights to Amsterdam, Johannesburg and Dusseldorf. More destinations will be added as more aircraft are added to the fleet.
Yesterday, Airbus group chief executive Tom Enders described SIA as "a true partner" of Airbus.
The relationship goes beyond aircraft purchases and includes business partnerships. Airbus and SIA Engineering Company, an SIA subsidiary, have agreed to set up a heavy maintenance facility in Singapore.
SIA and Airbus also jointly provide pilot training for Airbus aircraft types in the Asia-Pacific.
The new A-350 will arrive in Singapore tomorrow morning.