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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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432 total articles
Singapore recorded the fastest growth in four years in 2016, driven by a surge in visitor numbers from China. The China-Singapore market grew by 15%, while total traffic at Changi Airport grew by 6%.
Changi should experience similar growth in 2017 as the airport makes final preparations for the new fourth terminal, which is slated to open in 2H2017. Inbound traffic from China will again drive a large portion of the growth in 2017, but Changi is also expecting growth in the emerging LCC transit segment.
Scoot is Singapore’s fastest growing airline and is extending its network to Europe in 2017. Changi may also attract new European routes from other airlines, but regional capacity expansion within Asia will again drive most of the growth.
As Cathay Pacific is being forced to undergo a competitive metamorphosis it is exploring all options. The latest example is an expected announcement of a new Cathay Pacific route from Hong Kong to Christchurch in New Zealand's South Island. The service is expected to be seasonal (for the New Zealand summer), and is only Cathay's second seasonal long haul route after the Jan-2017 announcement of northern summer service to Barcelona.
New Zealand is a small network component for Cathay but one of its last strongholds, due to a joint venture with Air New Zealand. The New Zealand government reluctantly extended approval for the JV despite Cathay and Air NZ reneging on an offer to use it to link Hong Kong with Christchurch, as well as Auckland. This would thereby have extended the JV to benefit more of New Zealand – a sensitive local matter based on the assertion that Auckland was receiving disproportionate air service benefit.
Air NZ's JV with Cathay arch rival Singapore Airlines has resulted in SIA growing its presence in Christchurch. Cathay has been more frugal, and the NZ government determined that although the JV reduced competition, there was no prospective third competitor, so no harm done.
But now that Hong Kong Airlines has entered Auckland, and then expanded, the Cathay-Air NZ JV faces disbanding. By finally committing to a Christchurch route Cathay appears to be bidding to keep the JV in play. But the New Zealand government will still probably withdraw approval of the Air NZ-Cathay JV.
Singapore Airlines Group subsidiary SIA Cargo faces another challenging year as conditions in the cargo market remain unfavourable. SIA Cargo has been unprofitable for seven of the past eight years, with losses further widening in recent quarters.
Cargo capacity has been relatively flat since 2009, with additional belly space from passenger aircraft offsetting freighter reductions. However, yields have been in a steady decline, leading to consistent losses, despite the much smaller freighter operation.
SIA Cargo is cutting its 747-400 freighter fleet in 1QCY2017, to only seven aircraft. At its peak in 2007 SIA Cargo operated 16 747-400 freighters. SIA will need to decide within the next few years whether to cut its freighter operation entirely or start investing in 747 replacements. Further cuts to the freighter fleet are not currently under consideration as operating fewer than seven aircraft would be subscale and inefficient.
SilkAir is approaching an important juncture in 2017, with potential strategic ramifications for the Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group, as the full service airline subsidiary takes delivery of its first 737 MAX aircraft. SilkAir has grown by approximately 30% since taking its first 737NG aircraft three years ago, but has not expanded as rapidly as initially planned.
The 737 MAX aircraft could usher in a new phase of faster growth. SilkAir will be able to use the improved range of the MAX to open new longer range routes and take over more flights from the parent airline, accelerating a trend which has emerged over the past several years.
However, as SilkAir continues to expand and starts operating alongside SIA in more markets, it will need to review its product and commercial strategy. With the MAX, SilkAir has the opportunity to improve its product and close the gap with SIA mainline. Closer integration with SIA and a rebranding should be considered.
Singapore based LCC Tigerair faces a year of transition in 2017 as it combines with the medium/long haul LCC Scoot. Tigerair and Scoot aim to end 2017 with a single operator's certificate and a single brand as the Tigerair name disappears from the Singapore marketplace, after an at times tumultuous 13 year run.
The Tigerair brand will remain in Australia and Taiwan, at least for the time being. However, the Tigerair Group – which was absorbed by the Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group in early 2016 – no longer owns stakes in any overseas affiliates and is now focused entirely on growing in its home market of Singapore.
The Tigerair Singapore operation has not grown in three years, actually reducing the size of its fleet in response to overcapacity and in a bid to improve profitability. Tigerair Singapore is now profitable again, and expansion of its A320 fleet will resume in late 2017, ending a three year hiatus.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) medium long haul LCC subsidiary Scoot faces a potentially challenging 2017 as it launches flights to Europe and merges with the short haul LCC Tigerair. Scoot is also planning a series of network and schedule adjustments, which are critical to the future success of the European routes and long-term profitability.
Scoot has been successful in the initial four and a half years since its mid-2012 launch, becoming profitable in a relatively quick timeframe and unlocking a new phase of growth for the SIA Group. However, 2017 will bring intense competition and ambitious expansion in markets that are not likely to be profitable in the short to medium term.
Scoot’s newfound profitability could be at risk due to yield pressures, higher fuel costs and expenses related to new long haul route launches. Scoot and its ongoing integration with Tigerair are necessary strategically, and should improve the SIA Group’s long-term position, but the short-term outlook is relatively cloudy.