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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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Linking Asia with North America has been the market cornerstone for Korean Air and Cathay Pacific while producing a growth market for relatively new entrants like ANA and EVA Air. Yet, while northeast Asian airlines have the geography for profitable nonstop North America flying, southeast Asian airlines are challenged in serving the route.
Singapore Airlines feels the need for a significant North American presence to diversify its network and offset pressure from Gulf airlines, which have profoundly weakened SIA in its core Asia-Europe and Australia-Europe markets. Although Singapore Airlines plans to resume nonstop North American flights, these are token services for strategic purposes.
The primary objective has to be securing more fifth freedom rights for one-stop service. Singapore is encouraging the ASEAN bloc to secure open skies with Japan, Korea and the EU since open skies will entail unlimited fifth freedom rights. Korea is unlikely to agree, with Japan hesitant. Fifth freedom liberalisation is a contentious item in the otherwise benign EU-ASEAN negotiations. Countries worry that granting unlimited fifths opens Pandora's box to growth – not just from SIA, but any number of airlines that are quiescent today but could aspire to be powerhouses in the future.
Singapore Airlines' (SIA) medium/long haul low cost subsidiary Scoot has confirmed Athens as its first European destination. Scoot plans to commence four weekly flights between Singapore and Athens in Jun-2017, using 329-seat Boeing 787-8s.
Scoot will need to rely heavily on connections beyond Singapore, particularly to Australia, to make the route viable. Australia has a large Greek diaspora. Scoot will not face any LCC competition from Australia or Southeast Asia to Greece but will need to overcome aggressive competition from Gulf carriers – something that full service Singapore Airlines has struggled with. But Scoot's entry pricing is very aggressive.
High load factors will be required to offset low yields but Scoot could struggle to maintain high load factors on a year-round basis, given the seasonality of the Athens market. Scoot could face similar challenges in the other European markets that it is preparing to launch in 2017.
As airlines have embraced dual brand strategies to reach full service and low cost growth aviation IT has responded, as seen with Amadeus' acquisition of Navitaire, which mostly but not exclusively powered the passenger service systems (PSS) of LCCs. In the first six months since the deal closed Navitaire has added 230m passengers boarded, to Amadeus Altea's 393m. Navitaire passengers account for 37% of Amadeus' total.
Having significantly grown its market share, and with past LCC product forays not having worked out, Amadeus receives a new business stream. Some Navitaire customers (Ryanair, AirAsia, IndiGo) are larger than Altea customers and have high growth ahead of them. A second benefit is the Navitaire acquisition supporting Altea customers. By owning both products Amadeus can improve connectivity between Altea and Navitaire airlines. Most of Altea's large customers – Lufthansa, IAG, AF-KLM, Qantas and JAL – have an LCC operating Navitaire software. Of Navitaire's passengers – 35% are on airlines that are LCC units of full service airlines. Other airlines may be holding out on pursuing partnerships and connectivity until there is a cheaper, simpler and streamlined way.
It may seem that the Amadeus-Navitaire marriage is about full service and low cost segments, but its greatest strength is the role it will have in the hybrid segment. Hybridity is growing, and Amadeus-Navitaire could galvanise further expansion.
The Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group is continuing to pursue rapid expansion in China with the launch of services to Dalian by Scoot and to Fuzhou by SilkAir. The addition of Dalian and Fuzhou will extend the group’s Chinese network to 25 destinations in Nov-2016.
Scoot launched Shenyang as a one-stop service via Qingdao in 2013; it is now upgrading the route to nonstop. Shenyang will give Singapore Changi 25 nonstop destinations in China – more than any other airport in Southeast Asia. Fuzhou is already served from Singapore, while Dalian will initially be served as a one-stop product via Qingdao.
Maintaining a leading network in China is an important component of the current SIA Group strategy. It is also essential, since SIA is unable to codeshare on domestic services within China due to regulatory restrictions.
Tigerair Singapore prepares to resume expansion in late 2017 and 2018; feeding Scoot will be crucial
Singapore Airlines (SIA) short haul LCC subsidiary Tigerair is planning to resume expansion in 2H2017, ending a three-year hiatus from growth. The resumption of fleet and capacity expansion is made possible by the completion of a turnaround effort.
Tigerair Singapore is now back in the black after more than two years of losses driven by overcapacity. Market conditions in Singapore have improved, and a virtual merger with Scoot is starting to open up new opportunities for expansion since Scoot needs Tigerair to feed its fast-growing medium/long haul operation.
Tigerair currently operates 23 A320 family aircraft, having reduced its fleet from a high of 27 aircraft in 2014. The LCC is now planning to add six A320s in 2017 and 2018, resulting in a new all-time high of 29 aircraft. Tigerair, which became 100% SIA owned in early 2016, also has 39 A320neos on order that will be used for a combination of fleet renewal and growth over the next decade.
Long haul LCCs in ascendance: Scoot prepares to fly to Europe in 2017, the world’s longest LCC route
For those who doubted the reality of long haul LCC operations, the evidence is mounting that the future of long haul is changing. There are now 11 LCCs operating scheduled routes longer than 7,000km - and more are on the way, accelerated by the arrival of new 787s and A350s. Significantly too, five are subsidiaries or part of full service airline groups.
Singapore Airlines' (SIA) medium/long haul low cost airline subsidiary Scoot is now preparing to launch services to Europe in 2Q2017. Scoot will likely become the first LCC with flights over 10,000km long since Malaysia’s AirAsia X suspended services to Europe in 2012 (although AirAsia X is talking of resuming Europe service too).
Europe will be Scoot’s focus for the next phase of its expansion as it takes delivery of four 787-8s equipped with crew bunks. Scoot now operates 11 787s and plans to take one additional aircraft in 2016 in the standard configuration, completing its current phase of rapid expansion that features eight new medium haul destinations in just under one year.