Singapore Airlines describes first year of Canberra service as “exciting and challenging”

Singapore Airlines first touched down in Canberra in September 2016. (Canberra Airport)
Singapore Airlines first touched down in Canberra in September 2016. (Canberra Airport)

Singapore Airlines (SIA) says India, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom have been the most popular destinations during an “exciting and challenging” first year of its Capital Express service linking Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

The Singapore-Canberra-Wellington flights kicked off a year ago on September 20 2016, when SQ291 operated by Boeing 777-200 9V-SRP took off from Singapore, landing in Canberra the following morning and then continuing on to Wellington.

The inaugural four times a week service marked the return of scheduled international service at Canberra Airport since the short-lived Air Pacific (now Fiji Airways) flights to Nadi in 2004.

“The first year has been exciting and challenging and we have established a good base to build on in the second year of operations,” SIA regional vice president Tan Tiow Kor said in a statement on Thursday.

“Over the next 12 months we will continue to work closely with key stakeholders in the region to promote Canberra as an exciting destination, and the Capital Express as the most convenient option when travelling internationally either to or from the Capital.

“We will also have a focus on increasing the volume and consistency of exports and freight being carried from Canberra to Singapore and beyond.”

Figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) for June – the latest data available – showed SIA carried 4,905 passengers on the Singapore-Canberra route (2,083 inbound and 2,822 outbound) in the month.

Meanwhile, the BITRE report said there were 1,853 passengers on the Canberra-Wellington (948 inbound and 904 outbound) flights.

While seasonality undoubtedly plays a role, the numbers have built up steadily in the 10 months since the service launched, for both the Canberra and Wellington markets.

In July, SIA said it would retime the service to open up more connection opportunities, as well as improve the operational efficiency of the route with the aircraft spending less time on the ground in Wellington and departing Singapore later in the evening.

To coincide with the one-year anniversary of SQ291/292, SIA has published a list of the top 10 destinations customers had travelled to from Canberra, as well as a list of the top 10 inbound destinations, during the first year of operations.

Excluding Singapore and Wellington, there were four cities common to both lists – Delhi and Mumbai in India, Hong Kong and London in the United Kingdom.

Tan said outbound travellers from Canberra had connected onto not just SIA-operated services beyond its Changi hub but also flights on the airline group’s regional wing SilkAir and low-cost carrier Scoot.

Further, the SIA executive said Star Alliance member and Virgin Australia partner and shareholder was pleased at the variety of destinations people were coming to Canberra from.

Canberra will welcome a second foreign carrier in February 2018, when Qatar Airways begins daily flights to the Australian capital as part of a Doha-Sydney-Canberra-Sydney-Doha routing with Boeing 777-300ERs.

Top 10 outbound destinations from Canberra
Top 10 inbound destinations to Canberra

Ho Chi Minh City
Hong Kong

Hong Kong
Kuala Lumpur

Source: SIA


  1. Geoff says

    This ideal service will continually grow as Wellington and Canberra become more widely known especially by Asian people wanting new travel destinations.

    A lot of residents of these two Capitals with relatively high disposable incomes will utilise the quickest method to travel to their destinations and with the adjustment of timing for the return, it will be one stimulus factor contributing to further demand.

    Great to see this win/win outcome strengthening.

    Singapore Airlines and the two Capital airport companies are to be congratulated again.

  2. deano says

    Interesting that they started the route with a 777 where an a330 might have been a better fit and could expand capacity with an extra rotation if demand picked up or bring in 777s as needed
    I thought from the start that a 777 was overkill for Canberra

  3. AlanH says

    Qatar is to introduce a Doha-Sydney-Canberra-Sydney-Doha service in February 2018. What is this all about? It certainly has nothing to do with providing a competent international service to CBR and has all to do with getting more slots into SYD, despite what the spin doctors might have you believe otherwise.

  4. franz chong says

    well done but you have to remember till the a330’s came along the smallest SIA had after the A310’s were phased out a long time ago was 777’s.It’s a good size for the shorter sectors and the smaller cities too.

  5. Hutch says

    SQ A330 – 30 business seats, 255 economy seats
    SQ777-200 (version they fly to CBR) – 38 business seats, 228 economy seats

  6. Geoff says

    Yes. It offers a better business proposition for the higher yield potential.

    Eventually, the A350’s will replace the B 777-200ER’s. More economical and quieter. These are fantastic aircraft.

  7. Ian says

    Having recently travelled on the Singapore – Canberra sector for the first time is was a very real relief not to have to go via Sydney or Melbourne. There will the challenges but SIA and Canberra need to be acknowledged for the work they have done on this sector. A330 or B777 – didn’t matter – I’ll leave that to the routing / operations people and the accountants to worry about. It was just good to come straight home – well done.

  8. Doug Park says

    I think it would be far more popular if the flights to and from Singapore (from Canberra) were not both overnight flights.