Singapore Airlines’ low-cost subsidiary Scoot has taken delivery of its first trio among an eventual fleet of 16 Airbus A321neo aircraft joining the airline over the coming years, and is already planning to put the new jets to work between Singapore and Bangkok later this month.
With 27% more seating capacity than the Airbus A320neo, the type also brings the benefit of slightly longer range within a 6-7 hour window, potentially opening up more leisure destinations for the budget carrier post-COVID.
Singapore’s first Airbus A321s
Despite the original Airbus A321 having been in service globally since 1994 and this new A321neo version flying since 2017, no Singapore operator has ever operated an A321 – until now.
Both SilkAir and Scoot have operated the smaller Airbus A319, and of course the Airbus A320 has been popular with both those carriers and Jetstar Asia, but surprisingly the A321 didn’t previously make any mark with local carriers.
The aircraft is a stretched version of the Airbus A320 and is popular for offering more competitive seat costs on busier routes. It competes primarily with the upcoming Boeing 737 MAX 10.
“With the A321neo, Scoot will be able to operate its single aisle flights with unmatched levels of efficiency, benefitting from the highest commonality of the Airbus product range. This includes shared resources in spares, tools, similar maintenance engineering, pilots and cabin crew.”Scoot, 29th July 2019
Scoot’s A321neos are A321-271NX models. Here’s what that means in ‘Aviation English’:
The first three aircraft were delivered from Hamburg Finkenwerder Airport, where Airbus builds its A321s, landing into Changi as follows:
Saturday 29th May 2021
- TR322 (9V-NCB) “Just Wing It”, landed 08:06
- TR321 (9V-NCA) “Wings of Change”, landed 09:11
Friday 4th June 2021
- TR323 (9V-NCD) “Happy Pill”, landed 17:08
Though the A321neo boasts up to 4,000 nautical miles of range, probably more with no passengers on board, non-stop delivery flights from Hamburg were not possible. All three aircraft therefore made a brief refuelling stop for just over an hour in Dubai on their way to Changi.
Future upcoming deliveries will include:
The Scoot A321neos
Although the Airbus A321neo has a much longer cabin than the Airbus A320, Scoot has opted not to include a ScootPlus (formerly known as ScootBiz) section, like it has on its Boeing 787s.
Instead a 236-seat Economy Class layout has been chosen, 50 additional seats compared to the airline’s Airbus A320neo jets.
As with the airline’s A320neos, new Recaro seats are installed. These save weight and have slightly more knee space, with the literature pocket moved up to head height.
There’s a good overview of these seats on Scoot’s A320neo here.
Scoot has not yet published a seat map for its A321neo aircraft on its website fleet page, however this is an example of a 236-seat layout, which should be almost identical.
As you can see there is likely to be one forward toilet plus three at the rear, four extra legroom rows (total of 24 seats) and probably one ‘couple pair’.
There’s no seat-back IFE, but in late 2020 Scoot launched ScootHub, its new system allowing at-seat ordering of food, drinks and duty free items through your own personal mobile device.
This will also be available on the A321neos.
The system also supports games, an in-flight map and some other features, but most importantly has allowed the airline to gain approval to serve F&B items again with reduced crew interaction – in view of COVID-19.
Bangkok is the first route
Scoot will launch its first Airbus A321neo on flights to and from Bangkok four times per week from 28th June 2021.
Similarly in October 2018, Scoot inaugurated its first Airbus A320neo services on the Singapore – Bangkok run.
Here’s how the airline’s Bangkok schedule looks from 28th June through to 30th October 2021, with A321neo flights highlighted.
Singapore ⇄ Bangkok
28 June – 30 October
787-8 or 787-9
787-8 or 787-9
It’s worth noting that Scoot’s confirmed schedule has only been published up to 30th June 2021 at this stage.
A321neos are labelled “32Q” under IATA timetables and in GDS systems. The Scoot website has a strange label for them at the moment, which will probably be fixed later to something more user-friendly.
While their increased capacity is clearly not yet required (Scoot had a 9.3% passenger load factor in May 2021), we think the airline will probably want to familiarise its ground staff, pilots and cabin crew to the new aircraft in readiness for what we all hope to be some travel rebound in the second half of the year.
We would therefore expect to see the airline use the A321neo on other flights in due course, though it’s possible that some will also be stored for the time being.
Like its A320neos, these new Scoot A321neos have the new Airbus ‘Space-Flex’ cabin, which allows greater seating capacity primarily by relocating two of the toilets into the rear galley.
This is ideal for low-cost carriers using a ‘buy-on-board’ principle, with less oven and galley space required for hot meal services and food preparation.
There are also some changes to the door configuration to allow more passenger seats, primarily by replacing a pair of floor-level exits in front of the wing with over-wing exits instead.