Singapore Airlines (SIA) says it will adjust flight times to Canberra and Wellington as part of efforts to open up the route to more connection opportunities beyond its Singapore hub.
SIA commenced flying a Singapore-Canberra-Wellington rotation four times a week in September 2016 on what it termed the “Capital Express” route using Boeing 777-200s configured with 38 angled life-flat business class and 228 economy class seats for a total seat count of 266.
Under the new schedule to come into effect on from October 28, the departure time from Singapore has been pushed back by 55 minutes, resulting in a slightly later arrival into Canberra.
While there is no change to the 75-minute transit time at Canberra, SIA has reduced the aircraft’s ground time in Wellington by a couple of hours, meaning the return leg takes off at an earlier time.
Finally, the arrival into Singapore is brought forward by 65 minutes to 0435 local time.
SIA regional vice president for South West Pacific Tan Tiow Kor said not only would the changes improve the operational efficiency of the flight, it would allow more passengers from the airline’s Asian network to connect onto the flight to Canberra and onwards to Wellington.
“The later departure from Singapore will allow customers travelling from Bali, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Phuket, and Shanghai to connect to the Singapore-Canberra-Wellington flight,” Tan said in a statement on Thursday.
“These new connections provide a great opportunity to increase the number of inbound visitors to Canberra. “The shorter turnaround in Wellington will further assist in improving efficiency of the service.”
The Virgin Australia shareholder and alliance partner operates Canberra Airport’s only international service. Virgin and Air New Zealand support the service through separate codesharing arrangements.
Tan said the route has “met our expectations” during the first 10 months it has been in operation, with the schedule changes as a result of a review of its performance after six months of flying.
“It is normal practice to undertake a comprehensive review of any new route we launch,” Tan said.
“As the first airline to operate the Singapore-Canberra-Wellington route there have been a number of learnings that we have taken out of the first 10 months of operation.
“These learnings were fed into the review and have resulted in our decision to re-time the flights.”
Figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) for April – the latest data available – showed SIA carried 4,166 passengers on the Singapore-Canberra route (2,218 inbound and 1,948 outbound) in April.
Meanwhile, the BITRE report said there were 3,661 passengers on the Wellington-Canberra flight, while there were 3,058 on the reciprocal Canberra-Wellington service.
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.
Canberra could gain a second international airline in the period ahead with Qatar Airways listing the Australian capital as one of new destinations for 2018. However, no start date has been announced and no schedules released.
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