Beijing looms as competitive focal point for Scoot and Jetstar

Jetstar this week commenced flights between Singapore and Beijing on a timetable that was, uncannily or not, subsequently replicated by incumbent carrier Singapore Airlines to create its fourth daily service on the route. SIA's new service, due to commence 16-Dec-2011, arrives in Beijing at 1am and departs at 2am. But is that really a timetable appealing to SIA's premium traffic? Or has SIA started the route so it can be quickly handed over to its new low-cost subsidiary, Scoot, once it commences operations?

Jetstar in Jul-2011 announced daily service between Singapore and Changi effective 24-Nov-2011 on the following timetable:

Sector Flight Departure Arrival
Singapore-Beijing JQ7 18:35 00:50+1
Beijing-Singapore JQ8 02:50 09:30

SIA in Oct-2011 announced its fourth daily flight on the route with the following timetable, which is almost identical to Jetstar's.

Sector Flight Departure Arrival
Singapore-Beijing SQ806 19:10 01:05+1
Beijing-Singapore SQ807 02:15 08:55

SIA has other flights during its morning and evening arrival banks that facilitate network connections, making the SQ806/807 service unlikely for SIA's business traffic staple, especially with dead middle of the night arrival and departure times.

SIA's other three services between Singapore and Beijing

Sector Flight Departure Arrival
Singapore-Beijing SQ800 01:15 07:20
  SQ802 08:45 14:50
  SQ810 16:55 23:00
Beijing-Singapore SQ801 00:10 06:50
  SQ803 08:45 15:25
  SQ805 16:40 23:20

Adding to the possibility SIA has started this route with the intention to defend its market share – or hand the route over to Scoot – SIA offers a sale fare of SGD493.30 return with taxes on the route but only for travel on SQ806 and SQ807. Jetstar's fares are SGD487 excluding luggage and meals. SIA could be offering introductory fares to stimulate demand, but with travel on SIA's other three Beijing flights starting at SGD1070.30 return with taxes, SIA is being more than competitive. It is being combative.

Scoot is due to launch before the end of 1H2012 and will initially focus on routes from its Singapore base to China and Australia, serving at least four destinations in its first year.

While Scoot CEO Campbell Wilson said at Scoot's launch earlier this month that the carrier will not be used like SIA regional subsidiary SilkAir to take over any underperforming or leisure-focused routes from SIA, Scoot can be expected to operate alongside SIA. And perhaps on the Beijing route, Scoot can slide into a schedule SIA has set up that matches Scoot's competitor perfectly.

For more on Scoot, see related article: Scoot represents a radical change of pace for SIA but the new long-haul LCC is no pioneer