LONDON – Airbus delivered its first Ultra Long Range (ULR) variant of the A350-900 to Singapore Airlines, with which the airline will re-launch nonstop flights between Singapore and Newark in a few weeks.

The aircraft embarked on a super long delivery flight from Toulouse to Singapore through the Polar islands of Svalbard and Scandinavia, flying for 16 hours and 24 minutes.

9V-SGA, the aircraft in question, will begin commercial operations on October 11 when the carrier will launch non-stop services between Singapore and Newark.

After the Newark route launches, flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco will follow.

Commenting on this delivery was Singapore Airlines CEO, Goh Choon Phong, who outlined the airline’s partnership with the manufacturer but also the benefits to the ULR.

“This is a proud moment for both Singapore Airlines and Airbus, not only because we have again strengthened our partnership, but also because we have pushed the limits with this highly advanced new aircraft to extend long-range flying to new lengths,” he said.

“The A350-900ULR will bring more convenience and comfort to our customers and will enable us to operate ultra-long-range flights in a commercially viable manner. It will help us boost our network competitiveness and further grow the Singapore hub.”

Tom Enders, Airbus’ CEO also commented on what is a significant milestone for the manufacturer. “Today’s delivery is a milestone for Airbus and Singapore Airlines, as together we open a new chapter in non-stop air travel,” he said.

Enders also continued with the benefits that the ULR has on offer to the likes of Singapore Airlines. “With its unrivaled range and step-change in fuel efficiency, the A350 is uniquely placed to meet the demand for new ultra-long haul services,” he said.

“The combination of the A350’s quiet, spacious cabin and SIA’s world-renowned in-flight product will ensure the highest levels of passenger comfort on the world’s very longest routes.”

The ULR offers an additional 24,000 liters in fuel carrying capacity, totaling 165,000 liters. This boosts the aircraft’s range to 9,700 nautical miles, which equates to over 20 hours of non-stop flying. 

For Singapore Airlines, the aircraft will be configured via a two-class setup, offering 67 seats in Business and 94 seats in Premium Economy.

Overall, this is a significant step for Airbus and puts itself in contention with the likes of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and the upcoming 777-9X.

Even though Qantas currently operate the 787-9 on non-stop UK-Australia flights, the Aussie carrier has been keeping an eye on the ULR as a potential aircraft for direct UK-Sydney flights.

It will be interesting to see how the ULR operates when it goes into proper commercial service and what the demand will be like from both consumers but also other airlines.