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Qantas plans its return to Singapore and London without A380s in 2021

Qantas is planning a return to Singapore from July 2021. What does it mean for cabin products, lounges, and is it even realistic?

It’s been some time, over nine months in fact, since a Qantas aircraft with passengers on board has departed from Singapore Changi Airport. That was on the evening of 25th March 2020, when QF52 took off for Brisbane, around 20 minutes after QF36 made its last Melbourne departure and around an hour after QF72 had set course for Perth.

The last Qantas Airbus A380 to depart from Changi was a couple of days earlier to Sydney, on 23rd March 2020.

Qantas Airbus A380s haven’t been seen at Changi Airport since March 2020. (Photo: Heathrow Airport Limited)

The airline hasn’t been totally vacant from the airport since then however, with regular Airbus A330 cargo-only services, joining other carriers including SIA in helping to keep Singapore well stocked with a variety of essential produce.

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Passenger services have continued to be suspended of course, with Australia’s borders under tight restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flights are planned from July 2021

Qantas has loaded a range of services from July 2021, including Singapore flights, as it plans a return to its international long-haul network during the second half of the year.

These flights were originally scheduled to restart in March 2021, with the exception of the QF1/2 Singapore-London extension, which has been brought forward from October 2021.

The airline has provisionally rostered a return to all five of its regular routes from Changi, which are now available for booking, as shown below.

Brisbane

Flight From / To Aircraft Days
QF52 SIN2030 – BNE0600* 330 Daily
QF51 BNE1150 – SIN1800 330 Daily

* Next day

London

Flight From / To Aircraft Days
QF1 SIN2345 – LHR0635* 789 Daily
QF2 LHR2105 – SIN1725* 789 Daily

* Next day

Melbourne

Flight From / To Aircraft Days
QF36 SIN2015 – MEL0535* 789 Daily
QF35 MEL1215 – SIN1815 789 Daily

* Next day

Perth

Flight From / To Aircraft Days
QF72 SIN1150 – PER1720 330 Daily
QF71 PER1840 – SIN2350 330 Daily

Sydney

Flight From / To Aircraft Days
QF2 SIN1930 – SYD0510* 789 Daily
QF82 SIN2110 – SYD0655* 330 Daily
QF81 SYD1005 – SIN1650 330 Daily
QF1 SYD1555 – SIN2215 789 Daily

* Next day

As you can see there are some aircraft type swaps compared to the usual Qantas schedule, with the airline’s 12 Airbus A380s stored in either Victorville (10) or Los Angeles (2). Boeing 787-9s are mostly taking their place on the Singapore network.

All 12 Qantas Airbus A380s are stored in California, USA. (Photo: Felipe Sanchez / Shutterstock)

This includes the airline’s daily Sydney – Singapore – London ‘Kangaroo Route’, which like the Melbourne – Perth – London service will be operated by the Dreamliner.

Here’s how the capacity of Qantas aircraft looks for comparison between the aircraft types.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is QFtrans.png A332 A333 B789 A388
First 14
Business 27 / 28 28 42 70
Premium
Economy
28 60
Economy 224 / 243 269 166 341
Total 251 / 271 297 236 485

As you can see, introduction of the (physically) larger Boeing 787-9 rather than the Airbus A330 is actually a total capacity reduction (-20% vs. the A330-300), though that’s because the Dreamliner has a much larger Business Class section (+50%) in the Qantas fit, which if anything is good news for award space in this cabin.

While the schedule is loaded from 1st July 2021, the exact start date and flight frequency for each route is subject to change, mostly hinging on international border restrictions, not least those in Australia, which remain outside the airline’s control.

What it means for Business Class

With Qantas currently planning only Airbus A330s and Boeing 787s on flights from Singapore, it’s the popular Thompson Vantage XL seat to look forward to in Business Class.

Qantas Business Class. (Photo: Qantas)

These forward-facing seats are in a staggered 1-2-1 arrangement, with direct aisle access for all. Each seat reclines into a flat bed, with the footwell taking advantage of the space beneath the table of the seat in front, except at bulkhead rows where there is a wider recess.

An earlier version of this seat is installed on the airline’s Airbus A330s (both the -200 and -300 series), which you can tell apart by their lighter wood finish and fixed dividers between the middle seat pairs.

Business Class on the Qantas Airbus A330. (Photo: Qantas)

On the newer Boeing 787s, a more refined colour scheme with darker wood tones was chosen, and for couples travelling together the privacy divider is retractable for a more sociable experience, but otherwise the seat products are identical.

Boeing 787 Business Class seats have a retractable divider between the middle pair. (Image: Qantas)

As mentioned above, there are 50% more Business Class seats fitted to the Qantas Boeing 787-9 aircraft than to the Airbus A330s.

What else did the A380s have?

Qantas passengers will miss out on the airline’s new Airbus A380 cabins, which first started flying through Singapore in October 2019 and were part of a refit project that, in a non-COVID world, was scheduled to have been fully completed by now.

In Business Class this featured a very similar Thompson Vantage Business Class seat anyway.

The Business Class seats on new Qantas A380s were almost identical to the newest version on the Boeing 787s. (Photo: Qantas)

What is different is that the Boeing 787s and Airbus A330s don’t have the A380’s lounge area, ideal for a mid-flight change of scenery or meeting, or to dine with a partner, friend or colleague.