Singapore Airlines today announced a firm order for 20 of the latest Boeing 777-9 and 19 additional Boeing 787-10 aircraft, a significant commitment to Boeing for a large chunk of it’s future fleet, which was originally announced as a provisional order back in February this year.
The increase in the 787-10 order is probably the least interesting aspect of the announcement, as this is not a new type for the airline with the first SIA 787-10 already built and arriving early next year, though it takes SIA’s order from 30 to 49 in total. Our recent article on the Singapore 787-10 explains the medium-haul focus for this new jet in the Singapore Airlines fleet, on routes up to eight hours.
A total fleet of 49 787-10s will allow the airline to replace all A330-300, 777-200, 777-300, and potentially allow some of the A350-900 aircraft (those being delivered in ‘regional configuration’ next year) to be returned to a longer-range fit, for which they are probably better suited.
Here’s where it gets more interesting. The 777-9 will be the largest twin-jet Boeing has ever built. Based on the 777-300ER, but with new more efficient engines, the 777-9 is also 2.8 metres longer than it’s predecessor, and has a wider cabin and greater range.
A massive plane, it will be the longest in the world when it enters service, beating the current Boeing 747-8 title holder by an extra half-metre. With a wider and longer cabin, the 777-9 can hold up to 414 passengers in a typical 2-class layout or 349 in a 3-class configuration, with a fuel burn per seat reduction of 20% compared to the 777-300ER.
We’re going to stick our neck out on this and say, although the airline probably won’t admit it, the 777-9 is an A380 replacement for Singapore Airlines. An order for 20 is no coincidence (SIA is holding a fleet of 19 A380s for now), and the delivery timing of the 777-9 will start to coincide with another batch of A380 leases coming to an end in 2021.
“We’re going to stick our neck out on this, the 777-9 is an A380 replacement for Singapore Airlines”
Many commentators are reporting this order as a loss for Airbus because the alternative choice would be their A350-1000, but that’s nonsensical. If SIA were looking for an aircraft the size of an A350-1000 (the largest model offered in the A350 family), they would probably order an A350-1000.
The 777-9 is a much bigger plane, with capacity for 50-60 more passengers (16% more), while featuring similar range. Airbus simply does not offer a twin-jet in this category.
No, the big loser from this order is the A380, not the A350. If SIA replace their entire A380