Could Singapore Airlines Retire Its A380 Fleet?

Filed Under: Singapore

Airlines around the world are reconsidering fleet plans and retiring planes early in light of the current pandemic. The A380 in particular is being hit hard by the pandemic, and it looks like that could also be the case at Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Airlines reviewing fleet

Singapore Airlines has reported its financial results from the last quarter, as the airline reported a net loss of one billion SGD, and a 99.5% drop in traffic.

The press release about the results talks about the company’s future, including that Singapore Airlines is reviewing the potential shape and size of its network over the longer term, given the impacts of coronavirus.

This review is likely to lead to a material impairment of the carrying values of older generation aircraft, particularly the A380, which would account for approximately one billion SGD.

The company expects to complete its review by the halfway point of the fiscal year, which would be the end of September.

Singapore Airlines A380

Basics of Singapore Airlines’ A380 fleet

While Singapore Airlines never operated the largest A380 fleet, the airline was the launch customer for the plane type back in 2007.

The airline had ordered a total of 24 A380s, though currently has a total of 19 A380s in its fleet:

  • The airline initially had 19 A380s in its fleet
  • Then the airline decided to retire five A380s at the 10-year mark
  • This came right as the airline took delivery of its last five A380s
  • As a result, the airline has more or less maintained a fleet of 19 A380s

Singapore Airlines’ new A380 Suites

Singapore Airlines’ current fleet of 19 A380s is an average of eight years old, with the oldest A380 having been delivered in 2008, and the newest A380 having been delivered in 2018.

I can’t imagine that Singapore Airlines will retire its entire A380 fleet, given that five of these planes are just a few years old. However, I’d be shocked if at least a handful of these A380s weren’t retired in the very near future.

Singapore Airlines’ new A380 business class

Bottom line

Singapore Airlines is currently reviewing its fleet strategy, and the airline is expected to make some big decisions in the coming months.

The specific reference to the A380 suggests that reducing the A380 fleet might be part of Singapore Airlines’ strategy here.

The airline wouldn’t be the first — Air France has retired its entire A380 fleet, Lufthansa is retiring six of its 14 A380s, and Qantas has confirmed it won’t fly its A380 for years, which sure suggests that at least some of them may be retired.

What are your expectations about the future of Singapore Airlines’ A380 fleet?

  1. I received an email from SQ this morning that they had cancelled my SQ flight (LHR-SIN in F) on the 380. This was a bucket list flight for me. There are a lot more important things happening in the world right now but to hear they may retire the fleet now makes me sad.

  2. It’s a very sad time for the aviation world… I really enjoyed flying inside the A380, very quiet plane and comfortable ride… I hope they at least keep some of the newer planes 😀

  3. They seem to have the traffic though, under normal circumstances. Last time I flew their A380 it was packed to/from Melbourne.

  4. Hmm. I don’t like their new F Suites, it constantly makes me wonder “did they test this on actual people?” because how poorly thought out the layout seems to be. The gap on the lower side of the door, the awkward distance between you and the seat opposite, and the awkward stare that you sort of have to have during takeoff & landing… in First.

    Their A380 requirement has been going down over the years (or rather, shifting). Very likely they’ll keep it for London, Sydney, Zurich, and maybe Frankfurt-New York, but if their supers go and in its place comes the 777-300ER, I’d actually be celebrating.

    Etihad & Emirates are the only airlines whose A380 I actually enjoy. I reckon they’ll be around for some time, especially for Emirates. Etihad’s Residence is still very much in my bucket list, so I hope they stick around as well, at least until the new Midfield Terminal opens.

  5. My bet: They will retire the older A380s without the New Suites in First Class.
    The newer A380s and the ones that are already refurbished will stay.

  6. The best flights of our lives were SQ Suites (original) with Book the Cook. They were so wonderful that the overall trips were like a side benefit to the flights. The Lobster Thermidor was equal to the best restaurant mile we had in Paris, but we still talk about the Roast Pheasant years later.

    TheA380 take off is so smooth you have to look out the window to tell if you are still on the ground. I thought we were, but no, we were thousands of feet in the air. Absolutely no need for noise cancelling headsets at any point.

    Then the FAs come around with the “Dow or Krug” question. The answer to which of course is “yes”.

    Retiring the whole SQ A380 fleet? That would be akin to tearing down the Eiffel Tower because “it’s too old”. ;(

  7. In my opinion, there is no way they will retire the entire A380 fleet. Most likely, they’ll just retire the older planes that have the old Suite Class instead of retrofitting them to the new ones.

    The new Suite Class is barely 3 years old! Too much investment in the product to suddenly give it up…. (I hope)

  8. Have any of the older ones been retrofitted with the new cabins? IMO, I think there’s still a market for the a380 on some routes (such as London and Sydney); so I reckon they’ll at least keep the five newest ones, and maybe a couple of the older ones (if they’ve been retrofitted- as they won’t want to be spending money retrofitting them any time soon), therefore having six that can do three long haul flights and one left for short haul (eg. Hong Kong). As for the rest of the fleet, they’ll probably get rid of all 777-300, all a330s, and slim down 777-300er fleet so a350s become backbone of long haul fleet. If Silk Air’s 737s do end up getting transferred then I could see the cancelling a chunk of the 787-10s on order. I wonder what will happen with the 777x… maybe they can work out a deal with Boeing in which they can cancel the order if they take delivery of all 787s or vice versa?

  9. Singapore Airlines A380 is probably the best flight one can experience. Hope it will continue.

  10. Survival is more important than prestige.

    I hope they do not keep the A380s.. If they want, they can fit a few 359s or 787-10s with a 4-class or 5-class cabin. Remove the A380s, and then use the A350/ 787 to launch more destinations, especially Europe and North America, spread out the market.

    I heard that British Airways, Qantas, Virgin Atlantic, Norwegian etc all intend to fight it out on the Singapore – London, Singapore – Sydney route, now that they know it’s a billion dollar route.

  11. Sad to see A380s (and 747s) disappear. A380 has the smoothest and quietest ride, and its sheer size allows for over-the-top craziness in F. Really glad I had an award flight in SQ new suites this January, just before the zombie apocalypse ((c) @Lucky) got into full swing. Yes, the design could be awkward – but my friend and I had the cabin for ourselves on the short SIN-NRT red-eye. That made for a very nice private 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom residence in the sky (FA’s were nice enough to make 2 double beds for us). Not sure The Residence would beat that.

    I was thinking about using KF miles for a JFK-FRA-SIN flight in old suites (ideally connecting somewhere else, like SYD or AKL), but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

  12. The first 5 weren’t retired, they were leased aircraft that had its lease expired and Singapore decided not to renew them. A brilliant move considering those earlier models where up to 10 tons heavier than the later ones.

  13. My guess – a year from now only Emirates will fly A380s. Maybe ANA too.

    The past investments made are irrelevant – that’s sunken cost. The planes may have cost a fortune, but their worth, in terms of making money for the airline in the coming years, is zero or less.

    That’s of course very sad. As a passenger I really enjoyed my single A380 flight (LH J) and glad I preferred it over UA Polaris, because it probably was my last.

  14. I suspect that if you are the very LAST airline to fly the jumbos (A380 / 747) there could be an advantage if you route them correctly. Emirates?

  15. From a passenger perspective, the A380 is great. Very quiet & spacious. From an airline perspective they’re great if you’re able to fill them as they’re expensive both to acquire and operate.

    But one thing is certain: it’s the ugliest thing in the air!

  16. Let’s face it: the 380 is a product of the past and of a different era. Other than LH, only EK will fly them for the foreseeable future.

  17. Temasek holding will inject more money. Singaporean government have so many reserves that it will start crazy infrastructure project soon to boost it’s economy perhaps accelerating terminal 5 expansion or some other projects.

    SQ is a national brand, not just an airline. A source of national pride too. The A380 launch was such a big deal for the airline and honestly the country. Who would’ve thought a former small fishing village could be the launch partner of largest commercial airliner in the world?

    Btw, most comments on SQ above are nice. Where is the anti government owned nuts or the anti socialist or pro freedom and anti china nuts?
    Singapore have stricter rule than china and have been ruled since independence by single party. Singapore is a very capitalist yet socialist nation of the same time which most of asian countries are. They have no freedom of speech no freedom of press and no freedom of public assembly but gave better city, housing, MRT, airport and airline than “free” HK. Lee Kuan Yew the founding father decoupled capitalism from democracy.

  18. It’s *almost* sad to see the A380 disappearing, considering most of the key international airports built new gates and even brand new terminals with the A380 in mind. For example, LAX having so many gates dedicated to the A380 makes it was less efficient when it’s utilizing the space with 777s and 787s when it was designed for the A380.

  19. “as the airline reported a net loss of one billion SGD, and a 99.5% drop in traffic.” – Traffic didn’t suddenly disappear. The government basically shutdown their borders so nobody was allowed to fly into Singapore.

  20. @AJ: Our SQ25 flight JFK-SIN in Suites was also cancelled for next week. It would have been our first time in Suites…

  21. I wonder if there is any possibility for an A380 combi version, like the 747 combi KLM used to fly. Emirates flights to Boston are probably at least as much about bringing back live lobsters as they are about transporting passengers. Maybe cook a few for the F/J passengers on the return flight – make it a real “Boston lobster termidor” 🙂

  22. @SBS: I don’t think an A380 Combi is feasible. The structural design of the hull requires both floors to stay there, i.e. they cannot be removed. Unfortunately, they are also not taking a lot of weight, so if you use them for cargo, it has to be light weight cargo.

    Perhaps SQ will keep a few of them for the routes with the highest demand, e.g. LHR. Even if the demand is not recovering fully, it might be more economical to operate one daily A380 rather than two daily A350.

  23. SQ will keep the A380 for the foreseeable future, it’s a prestige/willy waving thing for such a small and insignificant country.

  24. @Chuck, I know the lobsters are mostly from Maine now, but SQ calls them “Boston lobster” on their menu. Very few people would know what they mean if SQ called it a “Bar Harbor lobster”.

    And gotta love those PRC trolls that show up whenever anything positive is said about a truly successful majority-ethnic-Chinese country like Singapore or Taiwan.

  25. @SBS as chinese indonesian with singaporean PR and US GC, the amount of dumb comments on China is appalling. Take HK for example. HK is historically, demographically and size are very similar to Singapore. Singapore has no freedom of speech, public assembly or press and they are far richer and live in bigger houses than hongkies. Singaporean have capital punishment like public caning which westerner call barbaric. Westerner esp US propaganda against china is so crazy. Ask people who have been there, are chinese people really oppressed? Have the CPC not lifted billion literally with a B out of poverty?

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