TOULOUSE, FRANCE - Singapore Airlines (SIA) has announced Amsterdam in the Netherlands as the launch destination for its new Airbus 350 aircraft with services expected to start in April.
The first aircraft should arrive in January next year, after which it will be operated on selected flights to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Jakarta, Indonesia, for crew training purposes.
SIA has ordered 63 of the twin-aisle planes, 11 of which are expected to be delivered within the first year of operations, the carrier said on Monday (Oct 12).
Ms Lee Wen Fen, senior vice-president, marketing planning, said: "We are very much looking forward to the arrival of the new A-350s which will be fitted with our newest-generation cabin products, providing more comfort to our customers."
The Singapore carrier, which faces stiff competition from rivals like Cathay Pacific and Emirates, is confident the A-350s will usher in new operating economics, especially for long-haul.
The aircraft, which can carry more than 300 passengers in a three-class layout, is touted by its European maker to be 25 per cent more fuel-efficient than rival aircraft in the same category.
Qatar Airways, which became the first carrier to fly the plane commercially in January, also operates it to Singapore.
SIA's chief Goh Choon Phong has said in earlier interviews that the twin-aisle Airbus 350 could be the game changer.
"Like it or not, the reality is that the current fleet is simply not as efficient when it comes to long-haul operations... With the new planes, we will have more opportunities to look at how to expand long-haul," said Mr Goh said earlier this year.
Growing the parent carrier is part of a larger strategy to boost SIA's long-haul business and cement Changi Airport's status as a major hub.
Besides the long-haul premium carrier, the group comprises full-service regional arm, SilkAir, as well as budget carriers Scoot (which operates long-haul flights) and Tigerair (a regional player in which SIA has a stake of over 50 per cent).
SIA also has a 49 per cent stake in New Delhi-based Vistara which was launched in January as part of a tie-up with Indian conglomerate Tata.