We must be getting to the end of the year, with aircraft manufacturers getting up their final numbers. On the menu today is Singapore Airlines who have signed a Letter of Intent for Seven Airbus A350F Freighter aircraft.
The letter of intent covers seven A350F freighter aircraft, with options to order another five aircraft.
Deliveries are scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2025 when SIA will become the first airline to operate this new generation widebody freighter aircraft.
The agreement includes a swap with 15 A320neo and two A350-900 passenger aircraft that are in the SIA Group order book. This allows SIA to manage its capital expenditure while continuing with the essential freighter renewal programme.
According to Singapore Airlines, the A350F can carry a similar volume of cargo as the Boeing 747-400F, which it will replace in the SIA fleet. It will burn 40% fuel compared to the 747-400F on planned similar missions, offering better economic and longer range, as the airline provides in this handy table (along with two fewer engines).
|Airbus A350F||Boeing 747-400F|
|Max Take Off Weight||319 tonnes||395 tonnes|
|Max Payload (structural)||109 tonnes||116 tonnes|
|Range||4,700 nm||4,500 nm|
|Engine||Rolls-Royce TXWB-97||Pratt & Whitney PW4056|
Cargo remains a core part of Singapore Airlines business. The airline has increased its cargo capabilities over the last few years, especially in key segments such as e-commerce, fresh produce, and pharmaceuticals.
The airline currently operates seven Boeing 747-400F in its fleet, as well as offering the belly-space of its fleet for cargo as needed.
Mr Goh Choon Phong, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Airlines, said:
“This agreement with Airbus reinforces SIA’s position as a leading global air cargo carrier, while advancing our sustainability goals. It also ensures that we are prudent with our capital expenditure, and adjusts our passenger aircraft order book to give us the flexibility needed to navigate uncertainties in the recovery trajectory. The A350Fs will replace our seven 747-400F freighters, with the options providing the ability to adapt our requirements to future demand in the cargo market.
“The pandemic has underscored the importance of investing in the cargo business, and bolstering the SIA Group’s diverse revenue streams. Air cargo also plays a vital role in keeping open global supply chains, especially to transport essential goods during these times. SIA has worked closely with our partners in Singapore and around the world to deliver items such as vaccines, personal protection equipment, and food supplies, and we will continue to support such efforts.”
Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Airbus International.
“We are honoured by Singapore Airlines’ vote of confidence in the A350F as it renews its freighter fleet. The A350F is the world’s all-new large freighter and will be unmatched in its market segment in terms of operational efficiency, lower fuel consumption and CO₂ savings,”
“It is gratifying that Singapore Airlines recognises the value of the A350F as we build on the strong partnership we already enjoy.”
Keeping faith with the A350
Singapore Airlines remains one of the largest operators of the A350 worldwide – with them operating 56 of the type. With the airline adjusting its order book, it looks to be one of the launch operators of the A350F, whilst taking advantage of the economic benefits operating the type (and thus the flexibility of qualified crew), along with having two fewer engines to maintain and fuel.
It also marks the slow, but progressive interest in the A350F – with Air Lease Corporation being the launch customer and French logistics carrier CMA CGM Air Cargo already signing for the type.
It will be interesting to see who else adds the type to their roster in the longer term.
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