News Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines has completed its third Airbus A380 cabin refit

42% of the Singapore Airlines A380 fleet now has the new 2017 cabin products installed. Not that it's much use at the moment.

A380v3 96K (Agent Wolf SS)

Following an eight-month refit, 9V-SKN is finally flying again with the new 2017 cabin products on board, bringing the Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 ‘Version 3’ fleet to eight aircraft in total.

While in the current climate this doesn’t mean any ‘new routes with new Suites’ to get excited about (there are currently no routes with any Suites), it should bode well for securing the latest seats once SIA’s A380s finally return to the skies, with 42% of the carrier’s superjumbo fleet now boasting the latest fit.

How do we know?

Yesterday afternoon 9V-SKN operated a 2-hour 15-minute test flight from Changi, a requirement after this length of time on the ground given the heavy maintenance work typically performed alongside the refit itself.

(Source: flightradar24)

We were lucky that BK Tan was at Changi and able to report to us that he had eyeballed the aircraft, confirming it indeed now has the new forward upper deck and main deck window arrangement confirming its refit as a Version 3 A380.

That’s because the full complement of windows is installed at the forward main deck section, previously housing First Class Suites but now set aside for Premium Economy Class, and there are additional blanked out windows upstairs for the latest Suites.

SKN Takeoff
SKN departing Changi on its test flight on 30th June. (Photo: BK Tan)

The new and much bigger satellite receiver on the roof is also a giveaway, near the back of the fuselage, unique to the Version 3 aircraft to support the GX Aviation Wi-Fi system. There are also four windows instead of two behind the last upper deck door.

SKN Landing
SKN arriving back at Changi from its test flight on 30th June. (Photo: BK Tan)

It was certainly a quicker turnaround than for 9V-SKT, which spent 11 months on the ground during its refit, with -SKN instead matching the eight-month downtime of -SKS (the first A380 refit).

The SIA A380 Fleet

Here’s how the Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 fleet distribution now looks following this third aircraft refit.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 Fleet
Registration Version Age
9V-SKF V1 11.9 SIN
9V-SKG V1 11.2 SIN
9V-SKH V1 11.1 SIN
9V-SKI V1 11.0 SIN
9V-SKJ V1 10.9 SIN
9V-SKK V1 10.4 SIN
9V-SKL V2 9.5 SIN
9V-SKM V2 9.3 SIN
9V-SKN V3 9.2 SIN
9V-SKP V2 8.6 ASP
9V-SKQ V2 8.3 ASP
9V-SKR V2 8.4 SIN
9V-SKS V3 8.1 SIN
9V-SKT V3 8.0 ASP
9V-SKU V3 2.8 SIN
9V-SKV V3 2.6 SIN
9V-SKW V3 2.3 ASP
9V-SKY V3 2.1 ASP
9V-SKZ V3 1.9 ASP

ASP – Alice Springs Airport
SIN – Singapore Changi Airport

9V-SKN is the oldest of the airline’s A380s to receive the retrofit. It also leaves just five aircraft in the lowest density (but highest Business Class) ‘Version 2’ configuration.

42% of the Singapore Airlines A380 fleet (8 of 19) now sport the Version 3 configuration, with the latest Suites and Business Class.

3A Seat Blur.jpg
The new 2017 Suite on the Airbus A380. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

This eighth refitted A380 was initially required to add daily service to Paris with the new cabin products from today (1st July 2020), however none of the A380s are currently in passenger service, with six now stored at a long-term facility in Alice Springs, Australia. The latest pair, 9V-SKP and -SKQ, were flown there at the weekend.

We expect that a few more A380s, SKN potentially included, will also be placed in storage this month, with the airline potentially aiming to preserve all its Version 2 and Version 3 aircraft. These are their newest models, ranging from 2 to 10 years old.

As the highest passenger capacity aircraft in the fleet, the A380s will logically be rejoining the airline towards the end of the COVID-19 recovery phase. Currently Singapore Airlines is only flying two aircraft types on passenger services, the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787.

That means not just the temporary withdrawal of the Suites cabins, but also the 2013 First Class product on the Boeing 777-300ER.

This will last until at least the end of July 2020, however realistically we expect the airline to stick to this policy of flying only two aircraft types on passenger services for the foreseeable future.


Are the refitted aircraft any different?

The refitted Airbus A380s in the SIA fleet (-SKN, -SKS and -SKT) match the same cabin configuration as those newly delivered from Airbus in 2017 and 2018 (-SKU to -SKZ).

  • 6 Suites Class
  • 78 Business Class
  • 44 Premium Economy Class
  • 343 Economy Class
  • 471 Total

It’s the densest configuration Singapore Airlines has installed on the A380, with 30 more seats in total than the Version 1 examples and 92 more seats than found on the Version 2 jets.

The common configuration by cabin class on all Version 3 A380s, whether delivered new or refitted, means Singapore Airlines can deploy these eight aircraft on any A380 Version 3 route without worrying about potential overbooking issues.

In most cabins, like Business Class (pictured) the refitted aircraft has an identical layout to existing A380 Version 3 models. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

While the Suites, Business and Premium Economy Cabins have an identical seating layout and the same seat numbering as the other Version 3 aircraft, there are some small differences in the Economy Class cabin on the three refitted aircraft (9V-SKN, -SKS and -SKT), despite the identical total seat count of 343.

Here are the two Economy Class seat maps side by side (9V-SKU to -SKZ on the left, and the refitted aircraft 9V-SKN, -SKS and -SKT on the right).

A380 Refitted Difference.jpg
(click to enlarge)

As you can see the refitted aircraft has retained some of its original galley and toilet layout, but the same seat total has been achieved with:

  • 8 more seats in the forward middle section, but 3 less seats at the window side (row 58 does not exist on 9V-SKN/SKS/SKT)
  • 1 less seat in the second section (62D)
  • 4 less seats in the middle section at the very back (row 79 does not exist on 9V-SKN/SKS/SKT)
Y missing seat (Palo Will Travel).jpg
How it looks on the older A380s. (Photo: Palo Will Travel)

Nothing too significant there, the major news being the missing seat 62D, which gives the lucky passenger in 63D lots of legroom.

It is sold as an extra legroom seat on the A380 Version 1 and 2 aircraft (as seat 51D in those cases), but not on the Version 3 aircraft as the airline cannot determine in advance whether a refitted model will be used on a specific flight more than a few days before.

63D is therefore your go-to seat choice in Economy on the A380 Version 3, with no additional charges. You then have to cross your fingers that your flight will be operated by a refitted aircraft!

Though that’s unlikely at the moment, eventually if all the refits are completed there will be a 74% chance of success using this strategy (14/19).

Fun fact: The reason seat 62D is missing is due to the location of the crew rest compartment (CRC) emergency escape hatch. The CRC is directly below these seats in the cargo hold on the older A380s, but is in a different location on 9V-SKU to -SKZ.


New Wi-Fi

Another benefit of the A380 aircraft refits is the Wi-Fi system, which is brought right up to date with the latest Inmarsat GX Aviation technology.

Singapore Airlines was the first airline in the world to install the GX Aviation Wi-Fi system on a passenger aircraft with the initial A380 Version 3 delivery, and on 17th December 2017 passengers on 9V-SKU’s inaugural flight to Sydney were treated to an unlimited connection to try it out.

Even with close to 100% of passengers using the system concurrently, fast speeds were reported.

A couple of weeks later we jumped on board the same aircraft on the same Singapore – Sydney flight to review the new Business Class product and picked up a great connection speed, with 8.6 Mbps download and 2.3 Mbps upload rates.


Later that year in July we took the new Suites to Hong Kong and recorded 6.7 Mbps download with 2 Mbps upload speeds.

Wi-Fi Speed.jpg

Not only does that mean a fast connection speed, it also means Suites passengers will receive an unlimited data connection for their entire flight, rather than the 100MB cap that still applies on older A380 aircraft.

In Business Class the data limit is upped from 30MB on the older aircraft to 100MB on these newer models, with that higher upper limit also provided to PPS Club members travelling in Economy Class and Premium Economy.

Check out our full guide to the Wi-Fi systems installed and applicable access charges across the Singapore Airlines fleet.