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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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2,148 total articles
364 total articles
Singapore Airlines reports higher profits but future outlook hinges on Scoot & Tigerair improvements
The Singapore Airlines Group turned a SGD111 million (USD83 million) operating profit for the three months ending 30-Jun-2015 (1QFY2016), marking its best first quarter showing since 2011. An operating profit of SGD108 million (USD81 million) at the parent airline drove the overall result. Full service regional subsidiary SilkAir also remained in the black while the group’s two LCC subsidiaries Tigerair and Scoot, were break-even and incurred a SGD20 million (USD15 million) operating loss respectively.
But the outlook for Tigerair and Scoot should brighten as the two carriers continue to pursue closer cooperation. Scoot should also see a significant improvement after it completes the transition to an all-787 fleet and expands its operation, enabling it to achieve higher economies of scale.
Scoot plans to phase out its last 777 in the current quarter and nearly double the size of its fleet during FY2016 from six to 11 aircraft. The loss reported for Scoot for 1QFY2016 marks the first time SIA has reported financials for the long-haul LCC since it launched in mid-2012.
China Southern Airlines exceeds 55x flights target to Australia/NZ. Competition regulators query JVs
Mission accomplished: China Southern Airlines is already surpassing its goal of having 55 weekly flights to Australia and New Zealand by the end of 2015. From about 25 weekly flights in 2011, China Southern in Dec-2015 will have 65 weekly flights. This includes three daily flights – one on an A380 – to Sydney, a frequency that compares to Cathay Pacific’s four and Singapore Airlines’ average 4.5.
Competitors are responding with a series of JVs that await regulatory approval. Qantas-China Eastern received a draft rejection while Air New Zealand-Air China awaits approval and Air New Zealand-Cathay Pacific needs re-authorisation. The Qantas-China Eastern initial rejection appears misguided while New Zealand stakeholders are questioning the benefits of the Air NZ-Cathay alliance in a market that where capacity has decreased by 18% while the Air NZ-Singapore Airlines alliance has grown capacity by 20%.
It might appear lines in the market have been drawn, but it is still early days. China Southern’s achievement in the market is only its first. The question is what its next goal is, and the answer is being kept closely guarded.
Myanmar National Airlines (MNA) plans to launch services on the highly competitive Yangon-Singapore route in Aug-2015 as it starts to implement an ambitious international expansion plan. The newly rebranded government-owned carrier took delivery of the first of 10 737-800s in Jun-2015 and plans to operate five international routes by early 2016 as it grows its new narrowbody fleet.
But the airline faces huge challenges as it operates outside the domestic market for the first time in two decades. The Yangon-Singapore market is already experiencing overcapacity and Myanmar-based carriers have struggled to compete against their Singaporean competitors, forcing cutbacks at Myanmar Airways International (MAI) and the withdrawal of Golden Myanmar Airways.
MNA will inevitably face the same challenges in Singapore as other Burmese carriers, particularly given its brand is an unknown in the international market. North Asia, which MNA plans to enter in the coming months, will also be a challenging market.
Northeast Asia's combination passenger-freight airlines are re-fleeting their main deck cargo operations. EVA Air is the latest, announcing at the Paris Air Show its intent to acquire five 777Fs. The 777F has also been used to re-fleet the cargo units affiliated mainland China's big three airlines: Air China, China Eastern and China Southern. The largest in-service 777F fleet in the world is with China Southern, with 10. Korean Air has taken 777Fs in addition to 747-8Fs, which only Cathay in Asia has been the other combination airline to use. There are no known re-fleeting plans from Asiana and China Airlines.
The airlines that have re-fleeted have been optimistic about acquisition costs being offset by operating efficiencies.
Southeast Asia has a different outlook. Thai Airways has exited the main deck freight business and Malaysia Airlines may do the same, although both were small players. Singapore Airlines Cargo is the largest in Southeast Asia but with only eight in-service 747Fs and no plans to re-fleet. As with the passenger business, Southeast Asian carriers are disadvantaged in serving North America, the main freight route for Northeast Asian carriers. To Europe there is large competition, including from Gulf carriers.
The much-celebrated growth of Chinese tourism is not occurring evenly. An additional 3.8 million Chinese visitors travelled to core Northeast and Southeast Asia in 2014 compared to 2013, representing 19% growth. But this growth was concentrated exclusively in Northeast Asia while Southeast Asia actually contracted. This excludes Thailand, which is earning its "Teflon Thailand" reputation: after flat performance over much of 2014 due to political uncertainty, Chinese visitors have sprung back up to all time highs. Its neighbouring countries are far less fortunate. It is little wonder Korea, Thailand and Japan are the largest growth markets for Chinese airlines.
Despite weakness in Southeast Asia, foreign airlines are typically not planning to further reduce capacity. As one example, Singapore Airlines instead plans to link outbound China traffic with other markets, such as Australia.
Rapid growth within Northeast Asia now means that Chinese visitors have come to define tourism profiles: they accounted for 18% of all visitors to Japan in 2014, 43% to Korea and 40% to Taiwan. Such high shares become contentious locally – and risks that countries and airlines need to carefully manage.
Locally in Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific has been in a rotating series of staff disputes with threats of work stoppages. But elsewhere in Asia competitor airlines have cast a worrying glow over Cathay and its long-haul growth. Cathay in Apr-2015 received its 50th 777-300ER; this in contrast to its previous long-haul workhorse, the 747-400, which numbered only 24 at its peak fleet size.
Cathay is the only Asian airline to have a significant presence in all three of Asia’s core long-haul markets: Australia, Europe and North America. Europe and North America will receive further growth as A350s arrive, while Australia expansion hinges on gaining added traffic rights. Cathay’s geography in the middle of Asia gives it cross-regional reach lacking at competitors, which are often smaller than Cathay.
A likely outcome of these dynamics is the evolution of deep partnerships between Northeast and Southeast Asian airlines. As they further consider endgame scenarios, consolidation becomes a possible future direction. Mergers will not be as integrated as in Europe, let alone North America, but the pressure for some forms of closer relationships is growing. One possible example could be a pairing of All Nippon Airways and Singapore Airlines.