Singapore Airlines will begin flying from Seattle, part of a big U.S. expansion by the carrier known for its high-end service.
The Seattle flights will start in September 2019, giving Singapore its first new market in the U.S. since 2008, when it added service from Houston.
Seattle stood out “because we know this economy has been growing very rapidly,” Sek Eng Lee, Singapore Airlines’ Regional Vice President-Americas, told USA TODAY, citing names such as Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing.
“These big companies are based there, and we see that there is a growing market,” Lee said, adding that “there also is growing demand from the leisure market, as well.”
The Seattle flight announcement comes amid a broader high-profile expansion for Singapore Airlines in the U.S.
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It was just three weeks ago that Singapore Airlines relaunched nonstop service between Newark, New Jersey, and Singapore, a 9,535-mile flight with a scheduled flying time of 18 hours, 30 minutes. With that, Singapore reclaimed the title for having the world’s longest regularly scheduled flight. The carrier generated headlines around the world as it bumped out the prior record-holder, Qatar Airways and its 9,032-mile flight between Doha, Qatar, and Auckland, New Zealand.
Friday, Singapore Airlines will restart another U.S. route that also will be among the longest on the planet. The airline’s Los Angeles-Singapore flights will cover 8,770 miles, ranking as the fifth-longest in the world as measured by distance. Flight time for the Singapore-bound leg is scheduled for 17 hours, 50 minutes.
Singapore Airlines is on the move in Northern California, too. It’s already expanding its recently-launched San Francisco-Singapore service, going to 10 flights a week from the current seven.
Lee called the moves “a huge expansion of our U.S. network.”
Once Singapore’s four-times-a-week Seattle service begins Sept. 3, the airline will have a total of 57 flights a week from the U.S., according to Lee. The growth represents a 43 percent increase in flight frequency compared to the carrier’s September 2018 schedule.
Singapore is perhaps best known around the world for its Airbus A380 super jumbo jets that feature ultraluxurious suites. But it’s a different plane that’s been the key for Singapore’s recent growth spurt in the U.S.
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That’s the Airbus A350 and an “ultra long-range” variant of the jet that was designed by Airbus at the request of Singapore Airlines.
The twin-engine A350, which first began flying for airlines in 2015, was already capable of flying long intercontinental flights. But the “ULR” version has an even greater range. Airbus says the ULR is capable of flying about 11,100 statute miles while carrying a normal load of passengers and cargo. The typical range of a standard A350-900 is about 9,300 statute miles, according to specifications from Airbus.
Singapore Airlines, which took delivery of its first A350 in 2016, has a total of 60 A350-900s on order and another seven of the ULR variant. Four of the A350-900ULRs and 21 of the A350-900s have already been delivered to the carrier.
For Singapore, the ULR has allowed the resumption of nonstops from Singapore to Newark and Los Angeles – routes the carrier discontinued in 2013 as it phased out its gas-guzzling, four-engine Airbus A340s amid rising fuel prices.
“What really has changed is that with the introduction of the A350, the ultra long-range variant of this aircraft, we are able to re-launch these two routes again,” Lee said.
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“We now have an efficient means of flying from Singapore to the United States. It is a very important market for us,” he added “We are very committed to this market, and we intend to grow our footprint and continue to serve our customers here with the best product and service possible.”
But Singapore won’t need the ULR version for Seattle, where the carrier will use its standard A350-900s for the 8,070-mile, 16-hour, 30-minute run to Singapore.
While that service will likely rank as one of the world’s 30 longest regularly scheduled flights once it begins, “the regular A350-900 will be able to fulfill this mission,” Lee said.
For now, Lee declined to say if Singapore might expand its roster of U.S. destinations beyond Seattle, though he didn’t dismiss the possibility.
“It depends on how the traffic builds up and how the economic conditions are,” Lee said. “But, really, we don’t believe Seattle is the last destination that we will add in the U.S. We are always looking out for more opportunities.”
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Singapore Airlines’ U.S. routes
Nonstop to Singapore (Service on Airbus 350-ULR jets)
New York JFK
Nonstop to Frankfurt (Airbus A380 jets)
Houston Bush Intercontinental
Nonstop to Manchester, England (Airbus A350-900 jets)
Nonstop to Singapore (Begins Nov. 2; Airbus A350-ULR jets)
Nonstop to Seoul Incheon (Boeing 777-300ER jets)
Nonstop to Singapore (mix of Airbus A350-900 and A350-900ULR jets)
Nonstop to Hong Kong (Boeing B777-300ER jets)
Nonstop to Singapore (begins Sept. 3, 2019; Airbus A350-900 jets)
Source: Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines’ longest U.S. routes
Newark-Singapore: 9,534 miles
Los Angeles-Singapore: 8,770 miles (begins Nov. 2)
San Francisco-Singapore: 8,446 miles
Seattle-Singapore: 8,070 miles (begins Sept. 3)
Source: Great Circle Mapper (gcmap.com)
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