Singapore's long-haul LCC 'news' is old - do not get confused


There has been an onslaught of news in the past day about Singapore Airlines' new low-cost, medium/long-haul carrier's launch plans. Do not get confused: these reports are old and incorrect.

The reports originated with Singapore's the Straits Times, who said the carrier - officially unnamed, although "Scoot" has been trademarked - would launch in Apr-2012. While the Straits Times did not specify its sources, the information originated from tender documents the upstart LCC, trading as New Aviation, issued for cabin seats and in-flight entertainment and connectivity. These documents, with comment from Singapore Airlines, formed the basis of our 1-Sep-2011 article on the topic.

  • Reports of Singapore Airlines' new low-cost, medium/long-haul carrier launching in April 2012 are incorrect.
  • The launch date is dependent on the delivery of cabin seats and in-flight entertainment systems.
  • The initial launch date specified in the tender documents was tentative and quickly adjusted.
  • The actual launch date is likely to be in late 2Q2012 or early 3Q2012.
  • The carrier aims for higher growth than AirAsia X and plans to have a 400-seat cabin on the B777-200 aircraft.
  • The introduction of wireless IFE is a potential feature, although its feasibility is still uncertain.

While the tender documents do indicate an estimated entry into service date of 1-Apr-2012, that date quickly became unattainable. The launch date is contingent on how quickly seats and IFE systems can be delivered. As we wrote on 1-Sep-2011:

Typically seat vendors need at least 12 months of lead time. As indicated in its tender with the estimated aircraft in-service dates, New Aviation was initially hoping the seats and IFE systems would be supplied by Apr-2012. This would allow the aircraft to be reconfigured as soon as it comes out of SIA's fleet and enable proving flights to begin in Apr-2012, paving the way for a potential launch in May-2012. However, in the likely event the first batch seats and IFE systems are not ready in time, the launch may not take place until later in 2Q2012 or early 3Q2012.

As we hinted, New Aviation operated on too tight a timeframe for its initial aircraft to be outfitted. This is why Singapore Airlines is now denying reports New Aviation will launch in April.

When the launch date - likely late 2Q2012 or early 3Q2012 - is announced, there may be reports saying the launch has been delayed. Such inevitable reports will be unfair to SIA and New Aviation as the Apr-2012 launch date specified in the tender documents was very, very tentative, not public and quickly adjusted.

Once the topic is put in context regarding time, the plans and ambitions of New Aviation are very interesting. The carrier is targeting a higher growth rate than AirAsia X, plans to have a 400-seat cabin (likely meaning 10-abreast on the B777-200) and hopes to introduce wireless IFE to provide entertainment and reduce aircraft weigh. One question going forward is if wireless IFE is still attainable given how new the innovative system is.

Read the original article: SIA's new long-haul LCC to start with 400-seat B777s, plans 16-aircraft fleet within four years

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