More Singapore Airlines A380s head to long-term storage

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his morning another batch of SIA Group aircraft made what’s now becoming a familiar journey to Alice Springs Airport in Australia, where they will enter long-term storage. Part of the pack was a pair of Singapore Airlines Airbus A380s, meaning six of the airline’s 19 superjumbos will be residing in Alice Springs for the foreseeable future.

With a third of SIA’s Airbus A380 fleet now in long-term storage overseas and potentially more to follow, there looks to be no realistic prospect for a full return to service for the type until late 2021 at the earliest.

The Airbus A380s were accompanied by two Scoot Boeing 787-8s and three NokScoot Boeing 777-200s, all of which have now arrived in Australia.

Details: Singapore Airlines

The two Singapore Airlines aircraft departed from Changi this morning, as follows:

  • SQ8865 (9V-SKP / A388 / Dep 06:12 / Arr 12:42)
  • SQ8867 (9V-SKQ / A388 / Dep 07:34 / Due 14:05)
SIA TGW to ASP 26-6
Scoot and Singapore Airlines aircraft en-route to Alice Springs (click to enlarge)

Here are the two Airbus A380 aircraft which are currently either en-route to Alice Springs or have recently touched down at the time of writing, including details of their most recent passenger flight.

Singapore_Airlines
Singapore_Airlines
RegistrationDeliveredLast flew
9V-SKP12 Jan 2012
(age 9.0 yrs)
24 Mar 2020
SQ319
LHR-SIN
9V-SKQ2 Apr 2012
(age 8.7 yrs)
26 Mar 2020
SQ321
LHR-SIN

Note that aircraft age is based on first pre-delivery test flight date.

These are relatively new Version 2 aircraft, with the high-density Business Class layout, but the older 2006 Business Class seats and Suites. They join four of the airline’s Version 3 A380s with the newer 2017 seats, still in storage at the Alice Springs facility.

Details: Scoot

Two Scoot Boeing 787-8s also flew down to Alice Springs last night, the first wide-body aircraft from the airline’s fleet to be placed in long-term storage.

  • TR7001 (9V-OFB / B788 / Dep 03:00 / Arr 09:49)
  • TR7003 (9V-OFD / B788 / Dep 03:50 / Arr 10:44)

They joined four of the low-cost subsidiary’s Airbus A320s, which were flown to the facility in April 2020.

Scoot
Scoot
RegistrationDeliveredLast flew
9V-OFB29 Aug 2015
(age 4.8 yrs)
21 Mar 2020
TR869
NRT-DMK-SIN
9V-OFD21 Dec 2015
(age 4.6 yrs)
18 Mar 2020
TR509
ATQ-SIN

Note that aircraft age is based on first pre-delivery test flight date.

These aircraft had not flown for around three months and were being temporarily stored at Changi.

TR and SQ Aircraft Parked (Changi Airport)
25 Scoot and 3 SIA aircraft parked at Changi’s ‘South Apron’ parking area. (Photo: Changi Airport)

Details: NokScoot

The three NokScoot Boeing 777-200s departed first from Bangkok Don Mueang Airport late last night as follows:

  • XW992 (HS-XBF / B772 / Dep 21:43 / Arr 07:21)
  • XW994 (HS-XBG / B772 / Dep 22:35 / Arr 07:59)
  • XW996 (HS-XBA / B772 / Dep 23:29 / Arr 08:52)
NCT to ASP 26-6
NokScoot aircraft en-route to Alice Springs (click to enlarge)

Here are the three NokScoot aircraft which flew to Alice Springs, including details of their most recent passenger flight.

Nok_Scoot
Nok_Scoot
Nok_Scoot
RegistrationFirst
Delivered
Last flew
HS-XBA
(9V-SRF)
22 Mar 2001
(age 19.3 yrs)
30 Nov 2019
XW145
CTS-DMK
HS-XBF
(9V-SRP)
28 Jul 2003
(age 16.9 yrs)
24 Mar 2020
XW111
KIX-DMK
HS-XBG
(9V-SRQ)
25 Aug 2003
(age 16.9 yrs)
3 Mar 2020
XW145
CTS-DMK

Note that aircraft age is based on first pre-delivery test flight date, delivery date is based on first delivery to Singapore Airlines.

The NokScoot Boeing 777-200 aircraft are all owned by Singapore Airlines, previously carrying the 9V-SR* series registrations.

SIA has written down their book value to market value in a S$106.9 million charge, following the almost inevitable liquidation of NokScoot and zero prospect of the aircraft flying passengers again for the airline.

XW 772 Takeoff (Pojana Jermsawat SS)
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SQ222 is picking up the crews

As with each previous time a batch of SIA aircraft was relocated to Alice Springs, Singapore Airlines is diverting today’s Sydney – Singapore SQ222 flight (a cargo-only service) via the airport, presumably to collect the pilots and deliver them back home this evening.

SQ222 27-6
(click to enlarge)

At the time of writing the aircraft, Boeing 787-10 9V-SCO, had just departed Sydney on its way to Alice Springs.

Fun fact:This is the fourth time a Singapore Airlines Sydney to Singapore flight has been routed via Alice Springs to pick up the flight crew of aircraft delivered into storage, and the first time a Boeing 787-10 will have landed at the airport. The other three such flights were:

  • 5th April 2020: Boeing 777-300 9V-SYL
  • 26th April 2020: Boeing 777-300ER 9V-SWM
  • 30th April 2020: Boeing 777-300 9V-SYJ (to collect a NokScoot crew)

SIA’s long-term stored aircraft

Here’s a summary of the 26 Singapore Airlines Group aircraft in long-term storage at Alice Springs as of 27th June 2020.

Singapore_Airlines
SilkAir
Scoot
Nok_Scoot
SIA and Scoot-branded aircraft
stored in Alice Springs
AirlineAircraftTotalReg.
Airbus A38069V-SKP
9V-SKQ
9V-SKT
9V-SKW
9V-SKY
9V-SKZ
Boeing 777-200ER39V-SVB
9V-SVC
9V-SVE
Boeing 737 MAX 869V-MBA
9V-MBB
9V-MBC
9V-MBD
9V-MBE
9V-MBF
Airbus A32049V-TAN
9V-TAQ
9V-TAU
9V-TAV
Boeing 787-829V-OFB
9V-OFD
Boeing 777-2005HS-XBA
HS-XBB
HS-XBC
HS-XBF
HS-XBG
Total26

These aircraft are now under the care of Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage, and will benefit from the dry desert climate, essential for preserving aircraft in long-term storage.

We have a full list of which other Singapore Airlines aircraft remain active or in short-term storage at Changi Airport as of 18th June 2020 in our regular monthly fleet update here, which showed that 66 aircraft are effectively in a form of at least ‘temporary storage’ mode.

More could follow

Two more Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 Version 3 aircraft made test flights at Changi Airport this week, 9V-SKU on Tuesday and 9V-SKV on Friday, and could be set to join the others in storage, assuming SIA is not readying them for passenger service.

We suspect some may head to alternative storage facilities in the USA, with Alice Springs now becoming heavily populated with aircraft from several operators in the region.

Any Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 passenger flights seem unlikely for the rest of 2020, with these additional examples entering long-term storage suggesting the full complement of 19 aircraft operating again may not even be achieved in 2021.

This week Qantas announced it would be storing its entire fleet of 12 Airbus A380s in the USA until 2023.

Singapore Airlines does seem to have long-term future for its Airbus A380 Version 3 aircraft and newer Version 2 aircraft, prioritising many of these so far for storage in Alice Springs.

A380v3 96K (Agent Wolf SS)
Many of SIA’s Airbus A380s in long-term storage are fitted with the airline’s newest cabin products. (Photo: Agent Wolf / Shutterstock)

Whether the oldest Version 1 aircraft, all of which are mothballed at Changi, will ever return to service, let alone be refitted with the latest cabin products, is anyone’s guess.

Refit plans themselves look uncertain, with the Singapore Airlines CEO making the following statement when asked whether the programmes on the A380s and Boeing 737-800s would be accelerated or delayed:

“The various retrofit programmes… are actually under intense review by us… this also involves discussions with the various suppliers… until there is something concrete we can announce, we will not be talking about it in public.”

Goh Choon Phong, CEO Singapore Airlines

Summary

Alice Springs is becoming busy, with 26 SIA Group aircraft now parked at the facility, nine of which are Singapore Airlines’ own wide-bodies.

SQ A380s ASP (Steve Strike)
Aircraft in storage at Alice Springs Airport. (Photo: Steve Strike)

There still appear to be two different strategies for using the Alice Springs storage facility.

Storing 19-year-old Boeing 777-200 there, aircraft never likely to be used again by the group, seems more like a retirement plan for those assets.

On the other hand storing nearly new (or freshly refitted) Airbus A380s and brand new Boeing 737 MAX and Boeing 787-8 aircraft there seems more like a ‘best preservation’ solution, so that these aircraft remain in good condition and can return to the fleet with minimal maintenance work when the time comes.

Even the latest pair of Airbus A380s arriving today are relatively young at 9 years old.

Scoot has sent its first wide-body aircraft to Alice Springs, so it will be interesting to see if this trend continues in the months ahead.

Scoot 787-8 (Alec Wilson)
Scoot’s first pair of Boeing 787s in storage include 9V-OFB, less than 5 years old. (Photo: Alec Wilson)

Boeing 787-8s were chosen, which have lower passenger capacity but also carry 20% less cargo than the Boeing 787-9s, a possible reason the airline has a preference for operating these larger aircraft at the moment.