Singapore Airlines will become the first airline to operate long-haul international services from Canberra when it begins four times weekly Singapore-Canberra-Wellington services from September 20.
The new ‘Capital Express’ services, which will also see the first direct flights between Canberra and Wellington, will depart Singapore on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, returning to Singapore the following days, with overnight flights from Singapore to Canberra and Canberra to Singapore, and a morning departure from Canberra to Wellington and an evening departure from Wellington to Canberra.
The flights – SQ291 and SQ292 – will be operated by Singapore Airlines’ regional configured 266-seat Boeing 777-200s (and not the Airbus A330-300, as reported when the story first broke last week) and will be on the ground in Canberra for approximately 90 minutes in both directions.
The new flights were announced in Canberra on Wednesday by Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong, joined by Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure Warren Truss, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Canberra Airport chairman Terry Snow.
“We are especially pleased to be bringing more convenient travel options to customers with Canberra’s first regularly scheduled international flights and the first non-stop links between the capitals of Australia and New Zealand,” Goh said.
Singapore Airlines is in separate alliance partnerships with Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand, and Virgin Australia will codeshare on both the Singapore-Canberra and Canberra-Wellington sectors, but to date SQ has not reached agreement with Air New Zealand with codesharing on the new route.
One small step for Singapore Airlines, one giant leap for Canberra Airport
For Singapore Airlines the new flights represent meaningful but incremental extra capacity into Australia – including flights by its Silk Air subsidiary to Cairns and Darwin, Singapore Airlines already operates 136 flights a week to Australia.
Still, the new route will allow Singapore Airlines to better attract high-yielding Canberra-based government travellers looking to fly not just to Singapore, an important political and economic hub in its own right, but beyond to Asia and Europe without having to stop over in Sydney. And it also offers an attractive option for public servants and political staffers travelling between Canberra and Wellington.
Another attraction of the route is the ability to serve Wellington, as its 2,081m runway means long-haul nonstop services to Asia are uneconomic due to aircraft payload-range restrictions.
But for Canberra Airport, the announcement of international services is a realisation of long-held dreams both of the airport, owned by the local Snow family, and the ACT Government.
Canberra Airport has long lobbied for international services, particularly since its main runway extension was opened in 2006 and its $480 million terminal redevelopment was progressively opened from 2010. The airport terminal’s western concourse, which is home to the capital’s Virgin Australia flights and opened in March 2013, incorporates space for customs and immigration facilities and gates that can accommodate international flights, with the Singapore Airlines flights to use the airport’s Gate 6.
Canberra’s only direct scheduled international services to date was Air Pacific (now Fiji Airways) briefly operating flights to Nadi in 2004, but, until now at least, the airport has suffered from its close proximity to Sydney Airport.
So for airport chairman Terry Snow, the new Singapore Airlines international flights are the: “Full realisation of this dream when we bought this dog of an airport.”
That “dog” has certainly been transformed, particularly with the 2013 opening of its brand-new, $480 million terminal and now its first serious international services.
Tickets for the new flights go on sale from Monday January 25, with SQ offering Singapore-Canberra return flights from $650, and $469 Canberra-Wellington return flights.
Days of operation
Time of departure
Time of arrival
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday
Monday, Wednesday,Friday, Sunday
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday