SIA defers A340-500 deliveries by nine months
Singapore Airlines (SIA) has managed to cut a deal with Airbus to delay the start of deliveries of its ultra long range A340-500s by nine months to October 2003.
The move means SIA will postpone the inauguration of the first non-stop flights between south east Asia and the USA, originally planned for early-2003, in the face of falling transpacific traffic and a worsening financial outlook.
The carrier has also begun discussions with Boeing over deferring delivery of some of the Boeing 777s it has on firm order by up to a year.
The SIA delay is another setback for the A340-500/600 programme which faces an uncertain near-term future in the wake of the US terror attacks. A question mark hangs over the 11 A340-600s earmarked for delivery to bankrupt Swissair starting next year, while launch customer Virgin Atlantic is attempting to defer the -600s it is due to receive from June.
Air Canada and Emirates are due to receive A340-500s ahead of SIA, starting in late-2002.
SIA has five Rolls-Royce (R-R) Trent 500-powered A340-500s on firm order and holds five options. It plans to use the aircraft to serve Los Angeles non-stop from Singapore in a luxurious three-class configuration seating fewer than 200 passengers. The derivative, nominally a 313-seater, will be capable of flights of more than 18hr duration.
The Star Alliance carrier also has another 28 777-200ERs on firm order to add to the 20 already in service, plus five stretched 777-300s to be added to the five already in the fleet.
Airbus is undertaking a “get well” programme to eliminate excess weight from the wing of the A340-500/600, which is coupled with efforts by R-R to further improve the efficiency of the Trent 500 turbofan. The delay in deliveries to SIA is not thought to be related to the weight problem, however, as the airline had already been due to receive the first “optimum” aircraft, scheduled to be the 24th A340-500/600 off the Toulouse production line.