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Based at Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore Airlines is the national carrier of Singapore. Using a fleet of wide-body Boeing and Airbus aircraft, including the A380 of which Singapore Airlines was the launch customer, Singapore Airlines operates an extensive network across Asia, North America, Australasia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Singapore Airlines joined the Star Alliance on 01-Apr-2000.
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Singapore Airlines working on flexible inflight dining options and San Francisco lounge improvements
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Asia-Europe, which is one of IATA's big four international markets, has become the slowest-growing. The market underwent RPK expansion of only 1.5% in Jul-2016, the latest data available. Uncertainty in Europe and terrorism fears mean that some Asian travellers choose Australia and North America or, as IATA has flagged – travel within Asia, which has expanded by nearly double digits.
Although market expansion was slow in the first part of 2016, so too was capacity. Yet this changed in Jul-2016 as capacity increased more quickly, perhaps as airlines expected a stronger summer. Despite slow passenger growth, dynamics are highly varied – except for yield declines. The combined RPK growth of IAG (7.2%) Cathay Pacific (3.7%) and Finnair (8.7%) was not enough to offset the contraction of the largest airline in the market, AF-KLM (7.9%).
From the reported geographic data by all major airlines, load factors are falling.
Oslo Gardermoen Airport has sat out the recent boom in Asian growth. This is not just in comparison to neighbouring Helsinki's rapid Asian growth in tandem with Finnair, but even more broadly. Norway is the largest Western European country without a flight to China, and is the smallest of Western European countries with flights to Asia. Its only destination is Bangkok.
This is a juxtaposition to Norway's strong credentials: maritime and gas businesses, a wealthy population (much more so than Finland's) for outbound travel, and untapped year-round tourism opportunity – not just for Oslo but for all of Norway, from fjords in the summer to northern lights in the winter.
New management at Oslo airport wants to regain the initiative in Asia. Norway has the credentials to follow Iceland's sudden rise in tourism, especially from China. Management is considering foreign airlines, since SAS is in low-growth mode and has historically favoured Copenhagen, and Norwegian Air Shuttle lacks US approval for the NAI license it seeks – but perhaps more importantly is unable to access Russian overflight rights.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) will launch services from Jakarta to Sydney in Nov-2016, resulting in new competition for rivals Garuda Indonesia and Australia’s Qantas Airways. SIA’s entrance on the Jakarta-Sydney route is a strategic move and highlights its desire to pursue new areas of growth.
The Indonesia-Australia market is a logical market for SIA as it seeks to diversify its business. Indonesia and Australia are already SIA’s two largest international markets and Garuda and Qantas are already among its biggest competitors.
Competition within Asia Pacific, including the Southeast Asia-Australia market, has been intensifying. In the current highly competitive and challenging environment airlines are constantly jockeying and exploring new options to improve their position.
As Virgin Australia's unique accumulation of airline shareholders on its registry evolves, some of the longer term outlines of the Australian airline's strategy are unfolding. Air New Zealand is withdrawing as an equity owner, although the future nature of its partnership with Virgin has yet to coalesce. HNA Group, with its subsidiaries Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines is now on the register, along with the Nanshan Group, while Etihad and Singapore Airlines remain as substantial minority owners.
Part 1 of this report reviewed some of these issues in the context of Virgin Australia's international route plans.
Part 2 reviews the actual changes planned, as they relate to Virgin's US and Abu Dhabi routes and sets out why a greater emphasis on US routes is desirable for the short term, while a full picture becomes available for the more risky Chinese market.
Southeast Asian airlines are seeking to capture a larger share of the Southeast Asia-US market over the next few years as they launch new flights to the US. Three of the region’s flag carriers and at least one long haul LCC are planning to launch flights to the US, intensifying competition in an already fiercely competitive market.
Southeast Asian airlines currently account for less than a 20% share of the total Southeast Asia-US market. Philippine Airlines and Singapore Airlines are the only significant players in this market and are aiming to increase their share as they add new nonstop routes. Garuda Indonesia, Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines are also keen to become significant players as they launch flights to the US, replacing their now limited offline products.
However, market share gains will likely come at the expense of yields and profitability as competition with North Asian airlines – and to some extent US and Gulf carriers – intensifies. North Asian airlines now account for more than 50% of bookings in the Southeast Asia-US market and have increased their reliance on Southeast Asian connections as they have added US capacity, resulting in very competitive fares.
The A380 is once again under media scrutiny, despite there being no major movement on the type. Comments from Air France and Qantas about not taking further A380s have long been assumed, and it has been apparent that Malaysia Airlines does not even have the need for its A380s. Singapore Airlines not renewing the lease on its first A380 is hardly surprising, and offers no definitive conclusion about the A380 or second-hand market; early A380s had different production and are not as efficient as later models. The lack of movement on the A380neo continues to irk the model's largest customer by far, Emirates, and may not make for a productive relationship as Emirates weighs an A350 or 787 order.
For most, the A380 continues to fly. How and where it flies is changing. Flights to and from the Middle East are becoming more common as Gulf airlines, and mostly Emirates, take delivery of A380s. A further shift to the Middle East is inevitable. In Japan there has been a near exodus of A380s; airlines dropping the type as they moved from Narita to Haneda, which cannot accommodate the A380 during the day, and Singapore Airlines down-gauging. Intra-Asia flying is decreasing – notable given the growth of A380s based in the region. Services by the A380 to Australia are growing, perhaps as it becomes an easy market for airlines to redeploy capacity amid European security concerns and trans-Pacific overcapacity.