First A321 NEO jet offloads for international service

Image copyright AFP Image caption SING Airlines will fly from Taipei’s Songshan Airport to Tokyo, Shanghai and Melbourne A regional budget airline has flown the world’s first A321 NEO jet, the largest single-aisle plane…

First A321 NEO jet offloads for international service

Image copyright AFP Image caption SING Airlines will fly from Taipei’s Songshan Airport to Tokyo, Shanghai and Melbourne

A regional budget airline has flown the world’s first A321 NEO jet, the largest single-aisle plane to be added to international service.

SING Airlines launched service to Japan, Thailand and South Korea on Saturday with the Airbus plane.

A spokesman for the manufacturer, Airbus, said that SING’s first flight showed “the future of air travel”.

Flight SQ66 from Taipei to Tokyo was the inaugural flight of the aircraft.

From Japan, it was one of four Airbus A321 NEOs that SING plans to operate, compared with two A320 models and a Boeing 737, starting in January 2019.

“Our launch flight in the A321 NEO was the first time we operated a jet with a maximum take-off weight of 64,700kg,” said the airline’s spokesperson Christopher Chiang.

The airline, whose name means “Hamlet” in the Taiwanese vernacular, launched in 2017 with one plane and is now a regional budget operator.

It is part of an ambitious plan to form the world’s largest discount airline group.

It does not have any planes currently beyond its small fleet of A320s, which has yet to be fitted with the 40-tonne capacity of the newest single-aisle model.

The airline will start accepting orders for Airbus A321 NEOs in January 2019, so by then, the expected maximum take-off weight will have increased from 63,000kg to 64,700kg.

Image copyright AFP Image caption The A321 NEO has a maximum take-off weight of 64,700kg

The A321 NEO is powered by two engines that have large Sharklets, capable of reducing fuel consumption by up to 12% compared with previous models.

“The launch of SING Airlines’ first service demonstrates the future of air travel,” said Christophe Lagreuil, vice president Asia Pacific and South Asia for Airbus.

“SING could be the start of a new paradigm where a low-cost, regional premium service is offered to travellers all over the world.”

New routes

Image copyright AFP Image caption SING intends to grow to more than 10 cities

In Japan, SING announced plans to operate 30 weekly flights to or from Tokyo’s Narita Airport starting on 1 December.

SING will also begin service to Thailand’s Bangkok in March 2019 and operate flights to Seoul in South Korea by June 2019.

On 19 November, SING announced plans to expand its route network with four new Boeing 737 Max aircraft, expected to enter service early next year.

The airline is aiming to operate more than 10 cities by the end of 2019.

Initially, the planes were assembled at Airbus’s new plant in Tianjin, China, but are expected to be assembled at SING’s facilities in Taoyuan City, Taiwan, by 2023.

Founded in 2010, the airline operates as a joint venture between Asia’s largest discount airline, China Eastern Airlines, and Taiwan’s largest airline, EVA Air.

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