By Charlotte Seet
Singapore Airlines Acquires Airbus A350F
The sudden boom of air cargo shed some light for airlines across the world on the apparent worth of investing in the movement of cargo and freight, especially with the rise of e-commerce and the needs of consumers worldwide evolving in terms of wanting quicker delivery times. The consistent need to deliver time-sensitive materials such as medicines and medical equipment in a timely manner is necessary to maintain critical supply chains.
Aircraft manufacturing giants such as Airbus and Boeing have recognized the growing importance in air cargo, whereby the latter company has been the more domineering one within such a market, but Airbus has recently turned the tables with the anticipated Airbus A350F freighter aircraft.
Orders for the A350F have already been set into motion with customers, such as Air Lease Corporation and the CMA CGM Group back in November during the Dubai Air Show. Speculations were arising as to whom the next potential customer might be for the future.
Singapore Airlines — the world’s current largest operator of the Airbus A350 passenger aircraft — currently operates 56 across its network and has become the third customer of the A350F.
“We are honoured by Singapore Airlines’ vote of confidence in the A350F as it renews its freighter fleet,” Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Airbus International said, in a press release. “It is gratifying that Singapore Airlines recognizes the value of the A350F as we build on the strong partnership we already enjoy.”
On Dec. 15, Singapore Airlines signed a Letter of Intent with Airbus for the purchase of seven A350F aircraft, with the option to order an additional five and deliveries are scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2025. This will allow for the airline to become the launch customer operating this new generation of wide-body freighter aircraft.
This new agreement will include a swap with 15 A320neos and two A350-900s that are currently in the Singapore Airlines Group order book, giving the airline an allowance to manage its capital expenditure in the midst of renewing its fleet of freighters.
“The pandemic has underscored the importance of investing in the cargo business and bolstering the SIA Group’s diverse revenue streams. Air cargo also plays a vital role in keeping open global supply chains, especially to transport essential goods during these times,” Mr. Goh Choon Phong, Chief Executive Officer of Singapore Airlines, said, in a press release.”SIA has worked closely with our partners in Singapore and around the world to deliver items such as vaccines, personal protection equipment, and food supplies, and we will continue to support such efforts.”
Currently, the cargo division of Singapore Airlines only operates seven Boeing 747-400F freighter aircraft — with the youngest aged slightly above 15 years and the oldest age at around 21 years. The cargo division is a core business for the airline, so it would make sense that it is starting to invest in a fleet remodel, but why the A350F?
Sharing various similarities with the A350 passenger version, the freighter derivative of the A350 that received approvals from the Board of Directors has been designed to meet the imminent wave of large freighter replacements and the evolving environmental requirements.
With a 109-tonne payload capability, a large main deck cargo door and the optimal fuselage length, the A350F can carry a similar volume of cargo as the Boeing 747-400F — all whilst burning up to 40 percent less fuel and providing a longer range that offers greater flexibility in aircraft deployment.
Mr. Goh added, “This agreement with Airbus reinforces SIA’s position as a leading global air cargo carrier while advancing our sustainability goals. It also ensures that we are prudent with our capital expenditure, and adjusts our passenger aircraft order book to give us the flexibility needed to navigate uncertainties in the recovery trajectory. The A350Fs will replace our seven 747-400F freighters, with the options providing the ability to adapt our requirements to future demand in the cargo market.”