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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.
Location of Singapore Airlines main hub (Singapore Changi Airport)
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Singapore Airlines Group has reported improved profits for the quarter and year ending 31-Mar-2015 (FY2015) driven by a recovery in yields. The SIA mainline operation, full-service regional subsidiary SilkAir and SIA Cargo all recorded improvements in their operating performance for FY2015, although SIA Cargo remained in the red.
The SIA Group should be able to boost profitability further in FY2016 driven partially by fuel cost reductions. But market conditions remain relatively challenging and profits are unlikely to return to pre global financial crisis levels.
Mainline capacity will again be flat in FY2016 and there should be an opportunity to boost yields further at the parent airline as premium economy is introduced. But the group is accelerating capacity expansion at SilkAir and long-haul LCC subsidiary Scoot, which could put pressure on yields and load factors in some markets.
Qatar Airways is pursuing rapid expansion in the Singapore market as Singapore Changi becomes only the third airport in the world with A350 service. Qatar introduced A350 service on Doha-Singapore on 11-May-2015 and will be deploying three of its initial fleet of five A350s on the route by Aug-2015.
Qatar is also introducing a third daily flight to Singapore. The combination of the new third daily frequency and up-gauging the existing two flights from 787-8s to A350-900s will result in a 67% increase in seat capacity for Qatar in the highly competitive Singapore market.
Premium seat capacity will increase by 145% as Qatar seeks to raise its share of the Singapore corporate market. The additional capacity will enable Qatar to continue increasing its share of the Singapore-Europe market but also become a significant player in the Singapore-North America market as the new third daily flight improves connection times from North America.
Scoot plans Kaohsiung-Osaka & Bangkok-Sapporo as long-haul LCCs focus on fifth freedom opportunities
Singapore Airlines long-haul low-cost subsidiary Scoot is planning to launch two fifth freedom routes as it expands capacity for the fist time in over 18 months. The new Singapore-Kaohsiung-Osaka and Singapore-Bangkok-Sapporo routes complement existing services from Taipei to Tokyo and Seoul and will lift Scoot’s share of capacity allocated to fifth freedom sectors to over 20%.
More fifth freedom flights for Scoot are likely, particularly from Bangkok due to the new restrictions blocking expansion to Japan and South Korea placed on its Thailand-based sister carrier NokScoot. Asia’s leading long-haul LCC, AirAsia X, is also planning to launch its first fifth freedom sector, Osaka-Honolulu, and is looking at other similar opportunities including from India to Europe.
Fifth freedom sectors are attractive as they often provide less competitive and higher yielding options than pursuing new routes from home markets. Allocating capacity to other markets is a good option for Scoot and AirAsia X as the Singapore and Malaysia markets have become relatively saturated.
It has been more than three months since Qatar Airways took delivery on 22-Dec-2014 of the world's first A350 XWB. Since then Qatar has taken delivery of only a second aircraft and has used it to increase Doha-Frankfurt service from one to two daily flights, perhaps for operational or commercial reasons although far catchier was Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker's explanation the double daily A350 would "rub salt in the wound" of Lufthansa.
A far greater commitment is in Singapore, where Qatar Airways will have three daily A350 flights to Singapore, a longer flight than Frankfurt. Singapore may be the first airport to see two A350 operators when Finnair commences A350 service there after other Asian points.
Vietnam Airlines will launch A350 service to Paris CDG while Cathay Pacific may make Auckland an early A350 destination. A350 configurations range from 280 to 305 seats. No airline has first class (yet) and business class seat counts range from 29 to 46, with business class comprising 10-15% of total seats.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) is looking at acquiring a stake in Korean LCC Jeju Air as a potential next step in further expanding and diversifying its portfolio of airlines. Jeju would be SIA’s first investment in North Asia, following recent investments in Australia, India and Thailand.
SIA-Jeju is an unusual combination as there would initially at least be limited network synergies, although it would be a relatively inexpensive investment for SIA. Jeju Air is keen to stick with its pure point-to-point short-haul LCC model, resisting the need to establish deep partnerships, pursue transit traffic or launch a long-haul low-cost operation.
Jeju could potentially be persuaded by SIA to make changes and pursue partnerships or joint ventures with SIA’s two LCC subsidiaries, Tigerair and Scoot. But most likely SIA’s potential stake in Jeju will be primarily an investment – at least in the initial phase – with some opportunities for the airlines to learn from each other without having to rebrand or forge formal partnerships.
After Qantas' international division posted a profit for the six months to 31-Dec-2014, the division's first positive result since the Global Financial Crisis, the division needs to move from profit to sustainability and delivering returns. But Qantas is now considering international expansion after many years of reductions. A flight to Tokyo has been added, seasonal services to Vancouver have returned, there are supplementary long-haul services and Perth-Singapore may even be re-opened. Reports suggest a return to Sydney-San Francisco is even possible.
“We continue to operate below our full potential,” Qantas reported in a recent government submission. But as Qantas considers international growth, it confronts a markedly different international environment. Qantas argues that Australia viewed it as “expendable” and gave away international traffic rights without receiving enough in return. Qantas seeks to slow liberalisation under the justification of enforcing Australia’s legal duty to support a local aviation industry. This is effectively a mask for protectionism, begging the question: what is the value of a local aviation industry?