During the pandemic, the Airbus A380 has experienced a rollercoaster ride, with terrible times ranging from early retirements from some airlines to its manufacturing being halted for good, and eventually being grounded or parked for what seems like an eternity in storage airport.
Then, by some miracle, the good times returned in quick succession as travel demand increased and borders continued to open around the world. Airlines like British Airways and Qatar had brought their superjumbos back to life, and for the first time in what seemed like an eternity, these magnificent planes were once again flying the skies.
Singapore Airlines will be the third airline to return the superjumbos to operational flight service, as a non-stop return route between Singapore and London, in what appears to be yet another unexpected turn of events. The Airbus A380 will return to service as SQ322 from Singapore’s Changi International Airport to London’s Heathrow International Airport on November 18th, after being grounded for just more than a year.
The return flight is scheduled as SQ317 from London to Singapore, and it is the A380’s only confirmed flight at the moment, however, there are plans for other destinations in the near future.
The revival of Singapore Airlines’ superjumbos coincides with the carrier’s new Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme, which saw the airline announce the inauguration of a number of popular destinations, including the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom has long been a popular destination for both business and leisure travelers in Singapore, and the elimination of quarantine was just the icing on the cake for passengers looking to book flights between the two nations, especially as the year-end holiday season approaches.
The inaugural Singapore-London return trip, however, will be operated daily by the Boeing 777-300ER, while the A380 will be used on a more ad hoc basis on short-haul services for operational needs until the superjumbo is cleared for long-haul passenger service.
The superjumbo, which has a total of 471 seats – including six of Singapore Airlines’ famed Suites, 78 Business Class seats, 44 Premium Economy seats, and the remaining 343 Economy seats – would be an ideal aircraft to fulfill the predicted passenger demand for both Singapore and London.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, more than 970 passes for the vaccinated travel lane had been issued to travelers in the United Kingdom as of Wednesday (Oct 13), demonstrating how great the demand is and will continue to be.
Unfortunately, despite the clear great demand, Singapore Airlines’ intention to bring back the A380s may be a risky gamble, given the Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme has a daily maximum of only 3,000 passengers.
As a result, the national carrier would have to better manage fleet operations as well as seat capacity across markets, especially because it had already launched a number of other attractive destinations such as Paris.
The Singapore-Paris return route, like the Singapore-London service, was operated by superjumbos and was as successful in its heyday before the more recent predecessors, Airbus A350s, took over.
Another Fantastic Comeback
However, given what we’ve seen with the A380s’ tides and turns, the changes may still be in its favor, as the Airbus A350s may be used on other popular Singapore Airlines routes.
Aside from the already-popular locations for the Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme, Singapore Airlines has also relaunched seasonal travel services to Vancouver, Canada, after a more than a decade break when the airline stopped flying there in 2009.
This return to the Pacific Northwest will be unlike any other, as the new four-times-weekly seasonal service between Singapore and Vancouver will be accompanied by a tag flight to Seattle, Washington.
The A350-900 will fly as SQ28 from Singapore’s Changi International Airport to Vancouver International Airport, and then from Vancouver to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, starting on December 2nd and ending on February 15th.
“With the new Singapore-Vancouver-Seattle flights and the conversion of San Francisco-Singapore to a VTL service, SIA customers can enjoy even more seamless travel options to North America during the year-end holiday season. SIA will continue to monitor the demand for air travel, and adjust its services accordingly,” said Senior Vice President Marketing Planning of Singapore Airlines, Ms. JoAnn Tan in a press release.
In addition, Singapore Airlines will operate SQ27 as a twice-weekly Seattle-Vancouver-Singapore flight that will not be classified under the Vaccinated Travel Lane initiative to accommodate customers who are not eligible to enter Singapore under the plan.
While the restoration of Vancouver as a destination may bring some new configurations, it would undoubtedly benefit Singapore Airlines, since the combined demand for both Vancouver and Seattle would outperform the demand for a single, relatively distant destination.