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Emirates cuts Melbourne and A380s from its Singapore network until October 2021

It's bad news for those hoping for a shower at 37,000ft or a martini at the onboard bar, with Emirates downgauging its Singapore flights to Boeing 777s for the next 12 months, but fear not - new First Class Suites are here to stay!

Emirates has loaded its revised schedules through to the end of the northern summer 2021 season, and it’s bad news for Singapore-based flyers with not only a service reduction to Dubai but also the daily Singapore – Melbourne route completely removed from the roster for at least a year from now.

The carrier’s Airbus A380s, last seen at Changi in mid-March this year, will also not be making a return under the current plans before late 2021.

In positive news, the Dubai-based carrier is continuing to plan deployment of its newest Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with the latest enclosed First Class Suites fitted on regular services to and from the Lion City.

This opens up the possibility to experience this rare product to Dubai or all the way to Europe when travel restarts in 2021, with award space already loaded up to a year in advance.

Melbourne is axed

Emirates last served Melbourne via Singapore on 22nd March 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak took hold and grounded almost all international services. The airline subsequently wiped availability on this longstanding route through to the end of the published schedule some weeks ago.

Singapore – Melbourne is currently axed from the Emirates network through October 2021. (Photo: Kieran Andrews)

Now the airline has removed Singapore – Melbourne flights from the booking systems completely in its latest update, which covers the period from now through to the end of October 2021.

Normally operated on a daily basis as the continuation of a Dubai – Singapore service, this fifth freedom route looks completely axed for the time being, with Emirates also removing the Dubai – Singapore element of the service (EK404/405), scaling back to just three daily links to its Middle East hub from Changi.

Emirates services between Singapore and Melbourne featured the airline’s latest Business Class seats. (Photo: Emirates)

Emirates will continue to codeshare on planned Qantas services between Singapore and Melbourne, currently programmed using one Airbus A330 and one Boeing 787-9 each day from 28th March 2021, but with Emirates codeshare availability only loaded from 14th June 2021.

Emirates customers continuing their journeys from Singapore to Melbourne will likely have to choose Qantas services for the foreseeable future. (Photo: Qantas)

Emirates is currently serving its non-stop Dubai – Melbourne route three times weekly, with a limited schedule to and from other Australian cities as follows:

  • Brisbane: 2/wk
  • Perth: 2/wk
  • Sydney: 4/wk

Airbus A380s are gone

In more bad news for Singapore travellers, Emirates’ flagship Airbus A380 is not currently planned to appear on Singapore services at all for the rest of this winter and the northern summer 2021 season, between late March and later October next year.

Although the Middle East carrier is the world’s largest Airbus A380 operator, and has resumed passenger flights with the type on its network, Changi now looks set to miss out for the next year or so.

A shower at 37,000ft is one of the more unique experiences when flying First Class on the Emirates Airbus A380. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

All three daily flights between Changi and Dubai next summer are planned using Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which means no onboard shower for those in First Class and no bar for First and Business Class passengers.

That’s a shame since Emirates has recently reinstated operation of both those facilities on its superjumbos, with new health and safety measures in place.

The Emirates A380 bar for First and Business Class passengers is back, but not for the Singapore route. (Photo: Emirates)

Emirates is currently operating five times per week between Singapore and Dubai, with a mixture of EK352/353 and EK354/355 services. This schedule is retained until the end of the northern winter season on 28th March 2021, thereafter increasing to three times daily operation for the northern summer 2021 period.

Good news – new Suites!

COVID-19 isn’t bringing us much in the way of good news lately, but for Emirates services to and from Singapore there has been a nice surprise for those who have still been travelling over the last few months.

When the airline reinstated flights at Changi in mid-June 2020, it did so using Boeing 777-300ERs equipped with its latest fully-enclosed First Class Suites cabin.

Emirates has been flying its latest First Class Suites product to and from Singapore since June, and will continue to do so in 2021. (Photo: Emirates)

That was an unusual change with the rare and exclusive cabin, only fitted to nine aircraft, not previously used on the Singapore route. Initially it was planned only for a few weeks, but in fact the arrangement never stopped.

Use of these newer aircraft to Singapore was extended and remains in place, though unlike the early days not every Emirates flight from Singapore to Dubai has the new cabins.

Currently selected EK352/353 and almost all EK354/355 flights between Singapore and Dubai have been operated with the new First Class on board over the last new months. You can check the difference between the old and new configuration using a seat map tool like ExpertFlyer.

As you can see the new First Class has only six seats, with 1F and 2E ‘missing’ from the seat map when compared to Boeing 777s with the old First Class arrangement totalling eight seats, for a 1-1-1 arrangement rather than 1-2-1.

First thing to note – the new product actually disappears from the Singapore route during November 2020.

After that though, between December 2020 and March 2021, all five weekly flights to and from Dubai have the new seats except one – EK352 departing Dubai on Fridays and returning as EK353 from Singapore on Saturdays still has the old seats.

From late March 2021 through late October 2021, three times daily flights between Singapore and Dubai are planned as follows.

Highlighted flights during that period have the new First Class Suites installed.

From 29th March 2021

Flight From / To Aircraft Days
EK353 SIN0050 – DXB0415 77W Daily
EK349 SIN0140 – DXB0455 77W Daily
EK355 SIN2110 – DXB0050* 77W Daily
EK348 DXB0230 – SIN1405 77W Daily
EK354 DXB0330 – SIN1500 77W Daily
EK352 DXB0920 – SIN2055 77W Daily

* Next day

As you can see the route will benefit from the new First Class on board two out of three daily Dubai flights using the latest Boeing 777s. Simply avoid EK348/349 if you can.

Our review

We were lucky to try out the new Emirates First Class Suite product on a flight from Geneva to Dubai in September 2018, including a middle seat with the ‘virtual windows’.

It’s safe to say we had few complaints, and currently rate this as our favourite First Class seat, even surpassing SIA’s new A380 Suites.

Awards are available

When Emirates first introduced its new First Class Suites product, the airline restricted award availability in the sought-after cabin to 48-72 hours prior to departure, subject to unsold space on board, making it difficult to experience using miles without a solid backup plan.

Earlier this year though we were one of the first to spot that the airline had changed its policy for award space in this elusive cabin, opening it up months in advance on routes including Singapore, London and the Seychelles.

EKtrans

Emirates loads two types of Business Class and First Class awards on its flights:

  • Business Class: Saver and Flex
  • First Class: Flex and Flex Plus

If you’re booking a one-way award using Skywards miles, you’ll always pay the more expensive rate (Flex in Business Class or Flex Plus in First Class).

If you’re booking a round-trip award using Skywards miles, you’ll pay the cheaper Saver rate in Business Class or the Flex rate in First Class if there is availability, otherwise you’ll pay the more expensive rates for one or both of the sectors.

There must be availability in the Saver award bucket in Business Class or the Flex bucket in First Class for award space to be available through partner airlines, like Qantas.

You can redeem Emirates First and Business Class award seats using Emirates Skywards miles and the following partner airline frequent flyer programmes:

FFP Restrictions
QFF
AStrans To/from USA only
JALMBtrans
KEskypasstrans Round-trip awards only
MHtrans Excluding First Class. Round-trip awards cheaper than 2 x one-way.

You can transfer Singapore credit card points into miles with some of these partners:

  • Emirates Skywards: Amex, Standard Chartered
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer: Amex, Citi, DBS, Standard Chartered
  • Malaysia Enrich: Amex, Citi, Maybank

For the other schemes you’ll have to earn miles through alternative means, such as revenue flying, hotel loyalty points transfers or non-Singapore credit card points.

Here’s how much a First Class award from Singapore will set you back with the various programmes to Dubai. We also looked at Brussels (via Dubai) as a European example, since there are also award seats in the new First Class Suites on that route, giving you the latest product ‘door-to-door’.

First Class (one-way)
  Dubai Brussels
EKtrans 98,750
+S$159
141,250
+S$274
QFF 107,700
+S$159
149,800
+S$274
JALMBtrans 65,000
+S$159
120,000
+S$274
First Class (round-trip)
FFP Dubai Brussels
EKtrans 157,500
+S$306
225,000
+S$542
QFF 215,400
+S$306
299,600
+S$542
JALMBtrans 130,000
+S$306
240,000
+S$542
KEskypasstrans 150,000
+S$306
270,000
+S$542

Note: Emirates Skywards rates assume Flex award availability for round-trip.

As you can see JAL Mileage Bank is a great programme to use for many Emirates redemptions, though unfortunately it is not possible to transfer any points from Singapore credit cards into the scheme.

Here’s an example of award space for a return Singapore – Brussels trip in May next year, in new suites on all four flight sectors.

The only downside of this plentiful award space is that only one seat seems to be loaded on each flight.

If you’re interested in Business Class, all Emirates Boeing 777-300ERs with the new First Class Suites also have the airline’s latest Business Class seats installed, in a 2-3-2 layout.

EK New Business Small (Emirates)
The new Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class. (Photo: Emirates)

Here you’re looking at 105,000 Skywards miles return to Dubai or 150,000 miles return to Brussels, provided a Saver award is available on all flights which is not much of an issue at the moment.

DXB new J rtn
Singapore to Dubai return in Emirates’ new Business Class is 105,000 miles

Where else are the new suites flying?

With most international leisure travel for our readers likely on hold until next year, here’s a summary of where Emirates is planning to deploy its new First Class Suites cabin during the next northern summer season, from late March 2021 (flight numbers based on ex-Dubai):

  • Brussels (EK183)
  • Geneva (EK89)
  • Kuwait (EK855)
  • London Heathrow (EK5)
  • London Stansted (EK65)
  • Riyadh (EK819)
  • Seychelles (EK705)
  • Singapore (EK352, EK354)
  • Tokyo Haneda (EK312)
  • Zurich (EK85, EK87)

As you can see Singapore is lucky here, with Tokyo Haneda the only other route in Asia receiving the new First Class Suites.

Among these routes Brussels, Geneva, London Stansted, Seychelles, Tokyo Haneda and Zurich are exclusively served by aircraft with the new product next summer.

Sadly flights to New York with the new suites aren’t planned next year, so it’s back to the ‘old suites’ for that leg if you’re planning a USA trip.

Slumming it in Emirates’ older Boeing 777 First Class is still a great experience. (Photo: Emirates)

Where are the A380s flying?

If you were hoping to experience the First Class shower or Business Class bar on board an Emirates Airbus A380 once travel starts to open up, here’s how the route network for the carrier’s superjumbos currently looks, from Dubai:

  • Cairo (EK923)
  • Guangzhou (EK362)
  • Moscow (EK133)
  • Paris (EK73)
  • London Heathrow (EK1, EK3)

That’s quite a limited opportunity for connections from Singapore via Dubai, but does include London and Paris if you choose the right flight numbers.

Thankfully for the northern summer season starting in late March 2021 planned A380 flights expand significantly, including services to the USA, Canada and additional European cities:

  • Amsterdam (EK147)
  • Bangkok (EK384)
  • Beijing Capital (EK306, EK308)
  • Brisbane (EK434)
  • Cairo (EK923)
  • Christchurch via Sydney (EK412)
  • Guangzhou (EK362)
  • Hong Kong via Bangkok (EK384)
  • Jeddah (EK803)
  • London Gatwick (EK15)
  • London Heathrow (EK1, EK3, EK7)
  • Manchester (EK17)
  • Mauritius (EK701, EK703)
  • Moscow (EK131)
  • Mumbai (EK500)
  • New York JFK (EK201)
  • Paris (EK73)
  • Shanghai (EK302, EK304)
  • Sydney (EK412)
  • Tokyo Narita (EK318)
  • Toronto (EK241)
The A380’s onboard bar is already planned on over 20 Emirates routes next summer, though not to or from Singapore. (Photo: Airbus)

That should give you a good opportunity for that in-flight shower or a few hours propping up the bar on the second leg of your journey, or the first leg on your trip back to Singapore, potentially the perfect all-round combination with a new suites experience!

Emirates plans to shrink by 55% at Changi next summer

Overall with only three Boeing 777-300ER departures per day to Dubai from Changi currently planned for the summer 2021 season, Emirates is reducing its seat capacity by over 50% from Singapore based on original plans, as shown in the following table.

  Summer 2021
Daily Capacity (seats)
Original Plan Current Plan
EK349 DXB B77W: 354
EK353 DXB A380: 489 B77W: 354
EK355 DXB A380: 489 B77W: 354
EK405 DXB B77W: 354
EK433 DXB B77W: 354
EK404 MEL B77W: 354
EK348 PEN B77W: 354
Total 2,394 seats 1,062 seats

Originally, Emirates had planned to serve Dubai four times daily from Singapore and additionally both Melbourne and Penang on a daily basis.

Singapore – Penang was to be a new route for the airline but never saw the light of day – an inevitable early casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Things may change

While the current Emirates schedule of five weekly flights to Dubai from Changi looks unlikely to change anytime soon, looking well into the summer 2021 season is still a little presumptive at this stage.

Emirates could relatively easily upgauge flights to A380s and reinstate its Singapore – Melbourne route ahead of the current plans if a strong travel rebound becomes evident between now and then.

Emirates could reintroduce the Airbus A380 to Singapore before the winter 2021 season if strong demand returns.

Under the current plans though it looks as though Singapore will be a Boeing 777-only route for the airline well into next year.

Summary

Emirates is usually a major operator at Changi Airport, enhanced by its joint venture with Qantas and codesharing with Jetstar Asia in recent years, unlocking not only stopovers on the way to and from Australia but also cities like Da Nang and Medan to the list of options for its customers.

With travel recovery uncertain the Middle East carrier is scheduling a cautious return to around 50% of usual departure seat capacity out of Changi in 2021, capping its plans at three Boeing 777 flights to Dubai each day.

Emirates is focusing its smaller Boeing 777s on Singapore for now. (Photo: M. Harting)

That means two major losses; the airline’s fifth freedom Singapore – Melbourne route and Airbus A380 services including showers in First Class and the popular on-board bar for premium passengers.

In good news, however, Emirates is prioritising the Singapore route for its rare and very impressive fully-enclosed First Class Suites product on two out of three daily flights next summer, not to mention four out of five weekly services between now and then.

(Photo: MainlyMiles)

This is by far our favourite First Class seat in the skies, so we’d strongly recommend taking a look at award space later into 2021 for a speculative booking in this impressive cabin, still available on only nine aircraft worldwide.

(Cover Photo: Emirates)

1 comment

  1. I was wondering what about Sydney and when can fly out to Europe .We like to go to Croatia next year when can that happen .May not bye Emrites but other Airlines .We normally go via Singapore or Qatar

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