Singapore Airlines began sending some of its aircraft to a long-term storage facility in Australia last night, as the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic look set to dent travel demand for many months to come.
In total three Boeing 777-200ERs and two Scoot Airbus A320s made the journey to Alice Springs, home of Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage, the only purpose-built aircraft storage facility outside the USA.
You may recall that all six of SilkAir’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft were flown there last year, where the dry desert climate is far better suited to aircraft storage than the humid environment in Singapore.
In total 11 SIA Group aircraft are now resident in Alice Springs, and with the continued uncertainty over how long it will be before the airlines can return to anything resembling 100% operation, we expect more may follow in the weeks ahead.
Here are the five aircraft which flew to Alice Springs via Darwin last night, including details of their most recent passenger flight.
|9V-SVB||26 Jul 2001
(age 18.7 yrs)
|17 Mar 2020
|9V-SVC||16 Aug 2001
(age 18.7 yrs)
|19 Mar 2020
|9V-SVE||20 Nov 2001
(age 18.4 yrs)
|21 Mar 2020
|9V-TAU||26 Feb 2011
(age 9.3 yrs)
|22 Mar 2020
|9V-TAV||8 Apr 2011
(age 9.1 yrs)
|20 Mar 2020
Shortly after midnight on 5th April 2020, all five aircraft had departed on their way to Alice Springs via Darwin.
In the early hours of this morning all three Singapore Airlines aircraft were en-route to Alice Springs.
The two Scoot A320s followed later with all five aircraft having landed by around 8.30am local time.
Is this the end of the road for the 777-200s?
Even before the coronavirus situation escalated, Singapore Airlines was already well advanced in its plans to phase out the Boeing 777-200 and -200ER models, progressively replacing them with a mixture of brand new Airbus A350s and Boeing 787-10s.
Recently there were only three Boeing 777-200ERs (the three that have been relocated) and a single Boeing 777-200 still in active service with the airline (9V-SQN, which hasn’t flown since 20th March).
With scores of more modern, fuel efficient aircraft at SIA’s disposal, it would seem unlikely that these older aircraft will be returned to service with the airline.
This would make the older Airbus A380s the only type with the super-wide 2006 long-haul Business Class seats still in service.
Why via Darwin?
When SilkAir relocated its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to Alice Springs they flew directly from Changi, however all five of these aircraft made an en-route stop in Darwin last night.
We understand this was to allow the crew to clear Australian immigration (currently unavailable in Alice Springs).
Interestingly this morning’s SQ212 Sydney to Singapore flight was re-routed via Alice Springs, presumably to pick up the five sets of pilots, fly them to Darwin to complete exit immigration formalities, and continue to Singapore.
It’s certainly a more interesting routing than usual for that flight, though do note that SQ212 is operating as a belly hold cargo-only service with no paying passengers on board for the multi-stop trip.
In better news for the fleet, SIA’s newest aircraft, Boeing 787-10 9V-SCP, began test flights in Charleston, USA, wearing “1000th 787 Dreamliner” titles near the nose. It’s hard to believe there are now 1,000 Boeing 787s in the world, especially in the current climate.
Fun fact: Only 570 Boeing 777-200 and -200ERs were ever built!
Gary Eaton put some shots of the new bird on Instagram, which you can click through below.
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Maiden flight of the 1000th production Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The Singapore Airlines 787-10, 78x performed a three hour test flight over the Northern Atlantic Ocean and featured one go around. Notice the 1000th Dreamliner decal underneath the cockpit. Call sign BOE016, registration # 9V-SCP. April 3, 2020 at Charleston International Airport. #Boeing #boeingsouthcarolina #boeingcharleston #boeing78xdreamliner #boeing78x #b78x #b78xdreamliner #1000dreamliner #1000boeingdreamliner #singaporeairlines #singapore #singaporeairlines1000 #b787_fanpage #planespottergary #canon90d #sigma150600mmf563isdg
The aircraft is due for delivery later this month. Let’s hope it doesn’t go straight into storage, though the Arizona desert is in danger of being “on the way” to Singapore for this one (in our opinion).
With limited parking space at airports and high storage costs at the busy hubs, airlines are relocating their fleets of unused jets to all sorts of locations while they weather the coronavirus storm.
Sending these five aircraft to a long-term storage facility suggests it’s the end of the road for SIA’s Boeing 777-200 fleet – it now looks unlikely that these aircraft will fly for Singapore Airlines again.
With these storage arrangements usually lasting a minimum of three months it also looks like Scoot is not forecasting a full return to previous activity levels for the foreseeable future. Indeed industry body IATA is now forecasting that it might be well into 2021 before a full recovery is realistic.
Sadly it looks like more of the group’s aircraft will follow these five into storage in the weeks and months ahead.
(Cover Photo: R M Bulesco)