Airline pushes back target for A350/787 deliveries and ponders interim solutions

Singapore Airlines (SIA) aims to place an order for Airbus A350s or Boeing 787s next month and is considering leasing Airbus A330s or acquiring further Boeing 777s as an interim solution.

The Star Alliance carrier initially sought 2008 delivery slots for 787s, but SIA chief executive Chew Choon Seng says first deliveries, for either the A350 or 787, will be in 2010 or 2011. He says SIA will decide on an order – previously expected earlier this year – as early as its board meeting in early May.

SIA had wanted first deliveries in 2008, but all the early delivery slots for 787s have been snapped up by other airlines.

Meanwhile, the Airbus A350’s entry into service, originally set for mid-2010, has slipped following the late decision to adopt the A380’s new cockpit systems. “We will need some interim lift requirements for the period 2008-10,” says Chew.

If SIA selects A350s, Airbus “has offered A330s on a lease basis” as an interim solution until the A350s are delivered, he adds. Chew says if SIA orders 787s, it will also order more 777s, but rather than phasing them out later, it would use them to replace its older 747-400s.

Chew is adamant the carrier has not decided on which widebody to order and says any decision will have to wait until its next board meeting in early May.

He says Airbus remains in the contest, but the carrier has noted how some of the airlines that ordered A350s earlier are now saying Airbus “needs to rethink the aircraft” and make changes to the design. Asked whether market uncertainty over the A350 is making it hard for SIA to select it, Chew says: “Airbus claims that what they are offering SIA is a firm aircraft.”

SIA may choose between A350s or 787s in early May, but the board meeting could also see the carrier decide whether to order ultra-long-range and large-capacity aircraft.

The airline has been considering ordering the Boeing 777-200LR to replace its five A340-500s used for non-stop services from Singapore to the USA. It has also been pondering an order for 747-8s or more A380s to add to its current order for 10.

Chew says it is possible “all three areas” will be decided at the board meeting. The carrier is looking at A380s and 747-8s now because in the coming years it will need aircraft to replace its older 747-400s in keeping with company policy, Chew adds.


Source: Flight International