Singapore Airlines Ltd. will add flights to East and Southeast Asia from early next year and trim some US services as it tweaks routes and plane allocations to get a head start over rivals as nations ease travel restrictions.
The city-state’s flag carrier will resume flights to Busan in South Korea and increase services on Airbus SE A380 superjumbos to Australia, it said in an exchange filing Tuesday. It will also operate fewer services to Los Angeles, Houston and Seattle, and fly a Boeing Co. 777 to New York, instead of an A380.
While the Asia-Pacific region in general has been slower than the rest of the world to open up after the pandemic, places like Singapore and Australia have largely thrown off the shackles, encouraging airlines to tap travel-hungry tourists and business executives. China, however, one of the world’s biggest aviation markets, remains largely off limits due to virus restrictions, and airlines are adjusting their capacity and fleets accordingly.
Singapore Air will now operate the A380 to Melbourne and add a second daily service on the world’s largest passenger plane to Sydney. It also plans to operate the larger plane to newly opened Hong Kong from March, bringing Singapore Air’s daily services between the two financial hubs to four round trips.
Singapore Air is also increasing flights to Bangkok, with a fifth daily service, and Phuket. Asia’s post-Covid reopening has been exemplified over the past few weeks with several high-profile conferences in Southeast Asia.
The airline’s flight frequencies will reach or exceed pre-Covid levels in several destinations across East Asia and Southeast Asia by March 2024, the statement said. Even with cuts to US flights, Singapore Air remains “strongly committed” to the North American market and seat capacity to the US will remain above pre-pandemic levels.
The carrier, which posted a second consecutive quarterly profit earlier this month, is also racing ahead of Hong Kong, traditionally the biggest aviation hub in Asia. Singapore Air carried 1.54 million passengers in October while Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. flew just 401,000.
Overall capacity for the Singapore Airlines Group, which includes budget operator Scoot Airlines, is projected to rise to an average of about 76% of pre-Covid levels for the quarters ending Dec. 31 and March 30.
Cathay is expected to operate at one-third of pre-pandemic levels by year end and see that more than double by December 2023.