What Is Happening With Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A380s?

Once the second-largest operator of the Airbus A380, Singapore Airlines’ aircraft haven’t seen much flying recently. After being…

What Is Happening With Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A380s?

Once the second-largest operator of the Airbus A380, Singapore Airlines’ aircraft haven’t seen much flying recently. After being parked up during the early days of the pandemic, the A380s have been sitting in the desert or at their hub. However, SQ has been flying these aircraft recently and even bringing them back home to Changi. Here’s what’s happening with the superjumbo right now.

This week saw a second A380 fly from Sydney to Singapore following a maintenance check. Photo: Singapore Airlines

Moving closer

As COVID-19 began impacting business in early 2020, Singapore Airlines began moving some of its A380s to the Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) facility in Alice Springs. With no short-term use for these aircraft due to near-zero demand, parking the aircraft in the arid desert was ideal. The remaining jets remained in Singapore, undertaking new and unique (non-flying) roles. 

Several Singapore aircraft have been parked at APAS, with some unlikely to fly with the airline again. Photo: Getty Images

In November, the carrier announced that it would retire seven superjumbos, bringing down the fleet size to just 12 aircraft. This figure matched the number sitting in APAS at the time, leading to speculation that these planes would be scrapped. However, that may not be accurate. 

Another one

In February 2021, Singapore Airlines took off the covers from 9V-SKQ and flew the A380 to Sydney for essential maintenance. After a few days of maintenance, the aircraft was on its way to Singapore for a cabin refurbishment, giving hope that the planes are here to stay for a while.

This week, another A380 made the same journey. 9V-SKW departed Alice Springs on 28th July bound for Sydney. After two days on the ground for maintenance, the A380 left for Singapore Changi Airport, arriving seven hours later. While it is not confirmed yet, the aircraft is likely flying back for a cabin retrofit as well.

The return of the A380 for a new cabin signals Singapore’s intention to keep them in the long term. Photo: Getty Images

In Singapore, these aircraft will receive the all-new first class ‘Suites’ and big upgrades across all other seats too. Last year, the airline confirmed that all 12 remaining A380s will undergo the cabin refit by end the end of 2021. With only a few more planes left for the upgrades, this could be a timely affair.

Not flying

Despite some occasional activity around the Singapore A380’s, they currently remain firmly on the ground for passengers. Considering load factors remain painfully low, it makes little sense to bring out the biggest passenger aircraft for flights. Moreover, Singapore’s strict border control means there is little demand currently.

However, the airline has tentatively planned some routes for the superjumbo this year. Starting 31st October, the A380 may fly to London, Sydney, Beijing, Auckland, Delhi, and several more. These are all subject to travel restrictions and it is possible that the A380 return will be pushed back depending on the COVID situation.

Singapore Airlines A380
While SQ has around 1,700 A380 flights slated for winter 2021, many, if not all, will not fly. Photo: Getty Images

Overall, the A380 undoubtedly has a future with Singapore Airlines. The only question that remains is how long it will take for the airline to see enough demand to restart regular flights.

What do you think about Singapore’s A380 future? Let us know in the comments!

Source : Simple Flying More   

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International Passenger Numbers Stay Down Across Asia-Pacific

Ongoing travel restrictions and border closures continue to plague international airline travel in the Asia-Pacific region. The region’s…

International Passenger Numbers Stay Down Across Asia-Pacific

Ongoing travel restrictions and border closures continue to plague international airline travel in the Asia-Pacific region. The region’s airlines carried just 1.4 million international passengers in June, or just 4.4% of the 32 million carried in the corresponding month in 2019.

International passenger traffic across the Asia-Pacific region remains substantially down on 2019 levels. Photo: Vincenzo Pace/ Simple Flying

June’s numbers up fractionally on May’s figures

The Kuala Lumpur-based Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA) have released the region’s international traffic figures for June. They revealed a fractional improvement over May’s numbers. In contrast to June, 1.3 million international passengers flew on the region’s carriers in May, representing just 4.3% of the volumes carried in the same 2019 month.

“The already dire situation has recently been compounded by new COVID-19 infections across the region due to the Delta variant,” says AAPA Director-General Subhas Menon. “Ongoing border restrictions are holding back any meaningful restart in international travel markets.”

The airline industry group speaks with a common voice on behalf of 14 member airlines drawn from the Asia-Pacific region. Member airlines range from smaller carriers like Royal Brunei Airlines to traditional heavy hitters such as Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

Cathay Pacific is one of 14 AAPA member airlines. Photo: Jake Hardiman/Simple Flying

Passenger numbers are still way down on comparable 2019 levels

While some member airlines have domestic networks to fall back on, others do not. What they all have in common is a lack of business on international routes across the Asia-Pacific region.

Singapore Airlines flew 114,200 passengers in June. In contrast, the airline flew 1,883,000 passengers in June 2019. Passenger loads in June 2021 on Singapore Airlines were 17.2% compared to 86.7% in June 2019.

Japan Airlines, which does have a domestic network to help prop up ailing international operations, flew 54,984 passengers on international sectors in June. By way of comparison, the Tokyo-based airline flew 784,199 international passengers in June 2019, including 501,591 passengers around the Asia-Pacific region.

Garuda Indonesia has only published traffic data up to May. Like Japan Airlines, they have a substantial domestic network. Like Japan, Indonesia is also grappling with waves of COVID-19. In May 2021, Garuda Indonesia’s international flights flew 8,121 passengers.

In the same month, Garuda Indonesia’s CEO, Irfan Setiaputra, told employees the airline needed to be comprehensively restructured. “Failure to carry out the restructuring program could result in the company being terminated suddenly,” he warned.

“Many Asian economies are facing renewed challenges in bringing the pandemic under control and in progressing vaccination roll-outs,” the AAPA Director-General said last week. “Prospects for an early recovery for Asian airlines remain dim unless cohesive action is taken by governments to accelerate vaccination roll-outs and reopen borders safely.”

Garuda Indonesia Airlines continues to teeter on the brink of collapse. Photo: Getty Images

Cargo remains a bright spot for airlines across the Asia-Pacific region

Cargo continues to be the saving grace for most airlines throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Most regions worldwide are also seeing strong demand for air cargo services.

“Several factors have contributed to the strong air cargo demand,” says airline data consultancy OAG. Those factors include strengthening global economic activity, trade, and a rise in consumer spending, including e-commerce.

Also driving cargo demand is a lack of commercial flights in the Asia-Pacific regions. Trimmed down commercial passenger flight timetables are disrupting supply chains, with the bulk of the world’s air cargo normally travelling in the belly holds of scheduled passenger services.

AAPA says cargo capacity has seen an 11.7% year-on-year increase, leading to an 8.2% point jump in the average international freight load factor to 73.3% for June 2021.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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