Singapore Airlines has just announced its financial results for the first half of the fiscal year, and as part of this the airline has revealed plans to retire over two dozen aircraft.
Singapore Airlines retiring 26 aircraft
- Seven Airbus A380s
- Four Boeing 777-200ERs
- Four Boeing 777-300s
- Nine Airbus A320s
- Two Airbus A319s
Singapore Airlines is retiring four 777-200ERs
For a bit more context on these aircraft retirements:
- ~37% of Singapore Airlines’ A380 fleet is being retired, as the airline has a total of 19
- The four Boeing 777-200ERs being retired represent most of the plane type, though in recent years this has always been a niche aircraft for Singapore Airlines
- The four Boeing 777-300s being retired represent the entirety of the fleet; note that these are short haul aircraft, separate from the 777-300ERs used for long haul flights
- Regional subsidiary SilkAir is being merged into Singapore Airlines, and the A319 and A320 retirements represent the entirety of the Airbus narrow body fleet; going forward the only narrow body plane will be the 737
Singapore Airlines is retiring its entire 777-300 fleet
My take on Singapore Airlines’ A380 retirement
Back in late July it was revealed that Singapore Airlines was considering retiring its A380 fleet. This came in the form of a warning about possible impairment charges for the retirement of older aircraft, though no decisions had been made at the time.
I’d say Singapore Airlines dumping seven of its 19 A380s is roughly in line with what I would have expected:
- The airline just took delivery of five A380s within the past few years, featuring brand new cabins
- There are definitely still going to be routes where there’s demand for A380s, like Singapore to London, Sydney, etc., and these are markets where Singapore Airlines wants a product advantage
Singapore Airlines is retiring seven 19 A380s
Is this the end of the A380 to New York?
Pre-pandemic, the only Singapore Airlines route to the United States to get the A380 was SQ25/26, the service between Singapore and New York, via Frankfurt. It was always such a pleasure to be able to take the fifth freedom flight between New York and Frankfurt, as it was one of the best ways to cross the Atlantic.
If I were to place a bet, I would guess that the retirement of seven A380s also spells the end of Singapore Airlines’ A380 service to New York. Why?
- Singapore Airlines once again flies nonstop between Singapore and New York; even though the route doesn’t have first class, many may choose this for the convenience of a nonstop
- Even before the pandemic, there was talk of Singapore Airlines flying from Singapore to New York via Tokyo rather than Frankfurt
- The aircraft utilization for the route was never great, as the plane sat in New York all day; it takes more than two A380s to operate this route daily
- With fewer A380s, I think the priority for Singapore Airlines will be flying these planes to nonstop key markets, like London, Sydney, Paris, Melbourne, etc.
I doubt Singapore Airlines will resume New York A380 flights
Where do we stand on airlines retiring the A380?
Pre-pandemic there were 14 airlines flying the Airbus A380, so where do we currently stand on airlines retiring these planes? Here are the airlines that have either announced plans to retire the A380, or where it seems very likely that they’ll be retired:
- Air France has retired its 10 A380s
- Lufthansa has retired its 14 A380s, though they could be reactivated “in the event of an unexpectedly rapid market recovery”
- Qatar Airways has 10 A380s, and the company’s CEO has said that the A380s won’t fly for at least a couple more years
- Etihad has 10 A380s, and the company’s CEO has said that the “jury is still out” on these planes ever flying again
- Qantas has 12 A380s, and the airline won’t fly them for at least “several years”
Lufthansa is retiring its A380s
Following a business review, Singapore Airlines will be retiring 26 planes, including seven A380s, eight 777s, and 11 former SilkAir planes. I’d say the A380 retirements here are the most interesting.
Seeing seven of 19 A380s retired is roughly in line with what I’d expect, based on what the airline hinted at before. On the plus side, at least the airline isn’t retiring its A380s altogether. Still, we should expect a scaled back A380 network going forward.
What do you make of Singapore Airlines’ aircraft retirements?