SIA Finalizes A350F Order As Etihad Signs For Freighter

Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong (center/left) and Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and head of international Christian Scherer (center/right) sign a deal for seven Airbus A350 freighters, at the Singapore Airshow.
Credit: David Chua/MAphotoSG

SINGAPORE—Singapore Airlines has signed a purchase agreement for seven Airbus A350Fs, while Etihad has signed a letter of intent for seven of the freighter.

The contract with Singapore's flag-carrier finalized a December letter of intent (LoI). Singapore Airlines (SIA) revealed that it has been in discussions with Airbus and providing feedback to the airframer on development of the freighter to better meet its operational requirements before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The deal was signed by Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong and Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and head of international Christian Scherer at the Singapore Airshow. It includes replacing 15 A320neos and two A350-900s from the agreement, but maintains an option for five A350Fs.

“The engagement with Airbus started because there [weren’t] really viable new technology features available in the market then. We felt that we should actively get involved in starting the engagement and encouraging such a freighter to be available,” Goh tells ShowNews. “That would also allow us some ability to provide even more feedback to our partners from a commercial requirement perspective, what could be useful for freighters of the future.”

When he was president of SIA Cargo, Goh said the air cargo market is highly dynamic and that it would be difficult to project which growth areas the A350F might be able to penetrate. Nonetheless, he said the A350F will give SIA the flexibility to deploy in a cost-effective manner.

The A350F has the same pilot certification as the A350 family, and that would be a major consideration for the Star Alliance member—it is currently the world’s largest A350 operator, with 58 A350-900s in service. Similarly, engine and spares commonality are added advantages, as SIA Engineering Co. has a robust maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capability for the A350family.

Airbus estimates the A350F, at a maximum volumetric load of 92 metric tons, has a range of 6,000 nm, enabling it to reach Moscow, Prague and Johannesburg.

Meanwhile, Etihad's agreement also includes Airbus’ Flight Hour Services to support its entire A350 fleet. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier has five A350-1000s, which have yet to enter passenger service.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.