(Photo by Airbus/ Singapore Airlines)
Today, stunning news was announced as Singapore Airlines signed a Letter of Intent with Airbus to purchase 7 Airbus A350Fs, with an option for an additional 5 at a later time. This order replaces an existing order for 15 A320neos and 2 A350-900s as Singapore Airlines aims to rejuvenate its ageing freighter fleet. Currently, Singapore Airlines Cargo Division (SIA Cargo) operates 7 Boeing 747-400Fs, each of them averaging about 18 years of service, well outside the average age of the rest of Singapore Airlines’ fleet of 5 – 10 years.
The Airbus A350F was first proposed back in 2007 as a freighter variant of the A350-900. However, after numerous design propositions, Airbus formally announced the development of the A350F program as a freighter variant of the longer A350-1000. This design allows the A350F to have similar cargo capacities as the Boeing 747-400Fs and offers 10% additional cargo space than the popular Boeing 777Fs.
Table 1: Selected specifications between the A350F, Boeing 777F and 747-8F
4,700 nautical miles
4,970 nautical miles
4,265 nautical miles
Aside from its high payload, the A350F retains its 2 powerful Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines. Compared to the 4 Pratt and Whitney PW4056 engines on the 747-400Fs that Singapore Airlines currently operate, the A350F has been estimated by Singapore Airlines to burn 40% less fuel, vastly improving its fuel economy on both long and short-haul journeys. In addition, with the A350Fs, the reach of SIA Cargo will grow as the fleet’s range increases from 4,500 nm with the 747-400Fs to 4,700 nm with the A350Fs. This shift will also help Singapore Airlines meet its sustainability goals for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 by cutting 400,000 metric tonnes of emissions from its annual carbon footprint.
(Photo by Gavin Ang)
Ironically, SIA Cargo's fleet was almost shutdown, but with the onset of the pandemic and the subsequent rise in e-commerce, SIA's Cargo unit suddenly found itself with a windfall, supporting the global logistics trade as never before, with revenues climbing by more than 50% in 2021. This trend highlights the importance of having a strong logistics and cargo fleet for such an interconnected and global airline. With the introduction of the A350F slated in 4th quarter 2025, this will definitely soar Singapore Airlines' Cargo unit to greater heights, while giving a treat for aviation spotters and enthusiasts alike.