The end of SIA’s cabin retrofit programme for its flagship Airbus A380 fleet is finally in sight, with the sixth refit of the carrier’s superjumbos now completed and pending a return to the operating fleet, leaving only one final refit to go.
After the final one is done, 12 of these aircraft will ply the network with the latest Suites and Business Class products in the years ahead.
Earlier today (7th October 2022) 9V-SKQ undertook its post-modification test flight at Changi, having returned from storage in Alice Springs back in February 2021.
With an additional superjumbo soon at its disposal, and a withdrawal of the type from one of its existing routes in less than two months from now, the question is where’s next for the popular aircraft and its latest cabin products.
SIA’s Airbus A380 fleet
Singapore Airlines brought its A380s back into service back in November 2021, with a series of flights to and from Kuala Lumpur to get the crew back up to speed on the aircraft, followed by a return to the London route, where the flights benefitted from Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) status on their way back to Singapore.
Here’s the status of SIA’s 12 A380s returning to service post-COVID, including the 10 that are already actively flying again.
Singapore Airlines A380 Fleet
(as of 7th October 2022)
|Under refit for
re-entry to service
^ Refitted from V2
SIN Singapore Changi Airport
With the return of 9V-SKQ to the fleet in the coming weeks, there will be more refitted Airbus A380s flying in the SIA fleet than those originally delivered to the airline with the new cabins in 2017-18 (six refitted, vs. five newly delivered).
New A380 flights on the horizon?
Typically it takes 3-4 weeks for the airline to bring a refitted aircraft back into service, following the post-modification test flight like the one we saw today, so we can expect 9V-SKQ to be making an appearance on the network again by early November.
As we recently reported, Delhi loses its daily Airbus A380 flight from 1st December 2022, with a Boeing 777-300ER deployed in its place.
By December 2022, SIA’s schedule will require nine Airbus A380 aircraft, with eight in almost consistent use and one acting as a spare for operational requirements.
With two additional aircraft at its disposal by then (11 in fleet), there’s potential for at least two additional routes to be part of the mix in time for Christmas.
Adding daily Hong Kong flights and upgrading Shanghai back to daily service, for example, would also allow a second daily Sydney flight to receive the A380, like pre-COVID operation to those cities, or the daily Zurich service to be reinstated with the aircraft, instead of a second Sydney rotation.
Tokyo is also a possibility, with the daily SQ638/637 Narita flight formerly operated by the Airbus A380 pre-pandemic. That flight is currently rostered using the Boeing 787-10, but an upgrade would certainly be music to the ears of Japan lovers eager to return now that borders are finally being relaxed there.
Hong Kong has also started to relax its borders recently, and before COVID had a regular daily A380 service that slotted into the schedule between long-haul flights, maximising the type’s utilisation.
Before COVID-19, the airline’s A380s have been used to serve a variety of cities it has yet not returned to with the type including:
- Hong Kong
Unfortunately there simply won’t be capacity in a 12-strong fleet to return to all these places, while maintaining key markets like London, Sydney and New York on the roster, but it would be a fair bet that one or two of those on the list could benefit again soon.
It’t guesswork on anyone’s part at this stage, but stay tuned for the latest, since we’ll be reporting as soon as any new A380 flights are confirmed by the airline.
While there’s almost inevitably more to come, here’s where you’ll definitely find the Singapore Airlines superjumbo fleet deployed this winter, based on confirmed schedules at the time of writing.
Singapore Airlines A380 Flights
(as of 7th October 2022)
|18 Nov 2021||7 x weekly|
|1 Dec 2021||7 x weekly|
|14 Mar 2022||7 x weekly|
|27 Mar 2022||7 x weekly|
|New York JFK*
|27 Mar 2022||7 x weekly|
|4 Jul 2022||1 x weekly|
|15 Apr 2022
(ends 30 Nov 2022)
|7 x weekly|
(in addition to SQ322/317)
|30 Oct 2022||7 x weekly|
* via Frankfurt
In total there will only be 43 weekly Singapore Airlines A380 departures from Changi Airport from 1st December 2022, way too relaxed for an operational fleet of 11 of the type, so do watch this space for future route announcements.
New cabin products
All Singapore Airlines A380 Version 3 aircraft have the latest cabin products, including the new Suites and Business Class seats.
There’s also a large 44-seat Premium Economy Class section, in the space the Suites cabin used to occupy at the forward main deck.
The aircraft also feature the latest KrisWorld in-flight entertainment system and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Here are our reviews of the Suites (double bed) and Business Class cabins on these A380s.
- Suites: US$500k – US$1m
- Business: US$150k – US$300k
- Premium: US$15k
- Economy: US$5k
Older cabin products are not returning
Singapore Airlines confirmed back in November 2020 that all 12 of its Airbus A380s returning to the fleet would feature the latest cabin products prior to re-entry to service, meaning we had already seen the end of the longstanding 2006 Business Class and 2007 Suites from the Singapore Airlines network.
Don’t miss our heartfelt farewells to products we’ll probably all miss, even if they were a little past their prime!
‘The 63D trick’ in Economy Class
With more than half of SIA’s operating Airbus A380 fleet being the refitted aircraft, there’s an interesting trick when flying Economy Class to potentially score yourself lots of legroom at no additional cost.
That’s because seat 62D is missing on these jets, because of the location of the underfloor crew rest area escape hatch, whereas the crew rest is in a different location on the five aircraft delivered from new with the latest seats (9V-SKU to -SKZ), so the seat does exist on those ones.
Here’s how it looks (pre-refit, but the space is still there):
63D is therefore your go-to seat choice in Economy on the A380 Version 3, with no additional charges, since you will have around a 55% chance of success to score one of the six refitted aircraft that are in service, once SKQ returns to the fold.
Singapore Airlines is on the home straight with its A380 refits now, with only 9V-SKP left to be completed, having been returned from storage in Alice Springs back in June 2022.
That aircraft will hopefully now take SKQ’s space in the hangar and (fingers crossed) we may see it back in action in time for the 2023 northern summer schedule, for yet more flight and redemption options in the latest Suites and Business Class cabins.
In the meantime all eyes are on where Singapore Airlines will send their 11 A380s this winter, with at least two new routes looking to be a likely prospect by December 2022.
And yes, I know… everyone wants it to be Japan!
(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)