Over 30% of Business Class seats in the Singapore Airlines fleet will be the 2018 RJ version by March 2024, as more Boeing 787-10s arrive and older 777-300ERs depart for pastures new.
As part of its annual results statement in May each year, Singapore Airlines publishes its fleet development plan to investors, outlining the latest schedule showing which aircraft are set to leave and join the fleet during the year ahead.
This year the mainline carrier’s passenger fleet will grow from 133 to 142 aircraft, with most deliveries planned as Boeing 787-10s, featuring the 2018 Regional Business Class seats.
Two more Boeing 777-300ERs will also leave the airline, in addition to four already retired in the midst of COVID-19, while for low-cost subsidiary Scoot the most anticipated additions will be a pair of new Embraer E190 regional jets in March next year.
SIA Fleet movements
Here’s how SIA’s latest fleet development plan looks for the mainline carrier over the 12 months from 31st March 2023 to 31st March 2024.
We’re only focused on passenger aircraft, and so have excluded the cargo jets.
|Aircraft Type||SIA Passenger Fleet Totals|
|31 Mar ’23||Leaving||Joining||31 Mar ’24|
|A350-900 LH||30||+ 2||32|
|737-8 MAX||15||+ 1||16|
|All Types||133||– 2||+ 11||142|
First thing to note is that because the baseline is 31st March 2023, some of these fleet movements have already happened at the time of writing:
- 1 of the 2 A350 Long Haul additions listed in the table (9V-SJF) was delivered in late March 2023 and already entered service in early April 2023, so there is now only 1 more of those aircraft joining the fleet this financial year.
- The single Boeing 737-8 MAX shown as joining the fleet this financial year was also delivered last year, but entered service only after its cabin refit in late April 2023.
- 2 of the 8 new Boeing 787-10s to join the fleet this financial year have now been delivered (9V-SCS on 2nd April 2023 9V-SCT today – 25th June 2023), so there are now only 6 more of those aircraft joining the fleet this financial year.
Boeing 737-800s are still clinging on
Unfortunately there is no reduction for the relatively unpopular Boeing 737-800 fleet, which remains at seven aircraft through to 31st March 2024.
These ex-SilkAir jets have older cabin products, including a fairly lacklustre recliner Business Class, and aren’t expected to start leaving the fleet until mid-2024, with the last aircraft likely bowing out of service for return to its lessor by the end of 2025.
Luckily, as we reported in March this year, these aircraft are now only being deployed on short routes from Singapore to and from Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Phnom Penh.
A350 deliveries are almost finished
Singapore Airlines will take delivery of one more Airbus A350 Long Haul this year, after which only 2 more of the type are due to be delivered.
The carrier’s A350 deliveries after that will be seven of the A350F cargo jets, which will replace the ageing Boeing 747-400 freighters from late 2025.
Eventually, SIA will operate 65 passenger A350s (34 Long Haul, 24 Medium Haul and 7 ULR), plus 7 freighters, making it the second largest operator of the type, after Qatar Airways.
More 777-300ERs are leaving
In May 2020, SIA announced that it was retiring 4 of its 27 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft:
In the latest update, two further aircraft will be moving on to pastures new during the current financial year, reducing the fleet to 21 aircraft by late March 2024, which will remove more First Class seats from the airline’s inventory.
Four of the carrier’s Boeing 777-300ERs are currently in storage – 9V-SWJ, -SWK, -SWM and SWN, and we expect that it may be two of these leaving the fleet (-SWK was recently returned to Changi from Alice Springs, whatever that indicates).
According to the CEO, SIA’s use of the Boeing 777-300ERs is being extended beyond original plans, due to the Boeing 777-9 delivery delays.
SIA’s oldest operating 777-300ER, 9V-SWB, is approaching 17 years of age. The airline typically does not keep aircraft in its fleet beyond around 15 years.
Boeing 787-10s make up the bulk of new deliveries
As you can see from the planned new deliveries table above, the bulk of new aircraft joining the SIA fleet this year are the carrier’s highest capacity aircraft type after the A380s – 337-seat Boeing 787-10s.
This follows a long delay in Boeing 787 deliveries over regulatory issues, with the FAA halting the programme at least twice in recent times, causing a three-year gap in new aircraft deliveries for both SIA and Scoot.
Thankfully this has now been resolved, and a significant backlog of these aircraft are now joining SIA at last.
What it means for Business Class seats
Here’s the bit most of our readers are interested in – what do the fleet changes mean for Singapore Airlines Business Class seats?
The following table shows how many of each Business Class seat was in the operating fleet as of 31st March 2023 (already slightly out of date), and what that represents as a proportion of all SIA Business Class seats installed, plus how it looks at the end of the current financial year on 31st March 2024.
The 2018 RJ product is making the greatest headway, thanks to eight planned Boeing 787-10 deliveries between March 2023 and the end of March 2024, rising to 31% of installed Business Class seats across the fleet.
The oldest long-haul Business Class, 2013 J, contracts slightly to less than half of those installed fleet-wide, due to the removal of higher-capacity 777-300ERs, replaced with smaller A350 Long Haul jets.
More 2018 RJ seats will join the fleet in subsequent years too, with eight more 787-10s still on the order book, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see it represent well over a third of Business Class seats installed fleet-wide in the not too distant future.
What it means for First Class seats
The following table shows how many of each First Class seat was in the operating fleet as of 31st March 2023, and what that represents as a proportion of all SIA First Class seats installed, plus how it looks at the end of the current financial year on 31st March 2024.
|Seat Type||31 Mar 2023||31 Mar 2024|
|Total||As %||Total||As %|
The only change here is the loss of some 2013 F seats due to the retirement of two Boeing 777-300ERs, but as already mentioned with four of these aircraft still in storage the effect is unlikely to be seen in the schedules.
As an aside, 156 First Class and Suites seats fleet-wide is the lowest SIA has had in decades.
Prior to the pandemic, there were 334 First Class and Suites seats in the fleet.
Back in 2013, there were over 500!
Hopefully the upcoming fleet of 31 Boeing 777-9s will each have at least 4 First Class seats, to help boost this cabin’s presence again on the network.
Scoot Fleet movements
For those of you interested in the fleet development of SIA’s low-cost carrier Scoot, here’s how the latest plan looks for the 12 months from 31st March 2023 to 31st March 2024.
|Aircraft Type||Scoot Passenger Fleet Totals|
|31 Mar ’23||Leaving||Joining||31 Mar ’24|
|All Types||55||– 6||+ 3||52|
Scoot’s fleet will shrink slightly over the next year, primarily as a result of six older Airbus A320ceo jets being returned from operating leases, though interestingly these won’t be replaced by new A320neo family aircraft for the time being.
Scoot has a further 19 A320neo and A321neo jets on order, which will be delivered in subsequent years.
The low-cost carrier will take delivery of one new Boeing 787-8 during this financial year, bringing its total 787 fleet to 21, with 3 more then remaining for delivery after that.
The most interesting part of Scoot’s upcoming fleet development is the addition of Embraer E190-E2 regional jets.
The airline will receive its first pair of E190-E2 regional jets in March 2024, according to CEO Leslie Thng, with the remaining seven the carrier has on order through lessor Azzora due to arrive between April 2024 and the end of 2025.
This will introduce a smaller 2-2 cabin configuration on selected routes – great for couples with no dreaded ‘middle seat’.
Scoot has not yet revealed where it will deploy these aircraft.
We’re already predicting (and of course hoping!) that Koh Samui will be on the list, to break the high-fares monopoly of Bangkok Airways on the route, though there’s now a way to redeem just 6,000 Avios on the latter carrier’s flights through Qatar Airways Privilege Club.
Singapore Airlines is growing its passenger fleet from 133 to 142 aircraft by March 2024, and it’s the Boeing 787-10s making up the lion’s share of new deliveries.
This will see more of the 2018 Regional Business Class seats in the fleet, at the expense of some 2013 Long Haul Business Class with the removal of two more Boeing 777-300ERs.
On the First Class side, more 777s departing SIA means only 156 seats at its disposal fleet-wide, the lowest in decades, but hopefully soon to be resolved by the Boeing 777-9, which will have a brand new First Class cabin.
Over at Scoot, all eyes will be on the initial destination list for the first two ERJ190-E2 jets arriving in March 2024, with the carrier promising both existing and new regional cities on the route map for the 112-seat jets.
(Cover Photo: Stelia Aerospace)