Singapore Airlines (SIA) is set to reduce its London route seats by this winter.
The news comes after SIA announced in June last year that, that after a 14-year wait, it had secured slots for a fourth daily service from London Heathrow. Like the other three services, the carrier’s fourth daily flight, which was to be operated by a B777-300ER, was expected to upgrade to A380 aircraft.
However, according to flight displays on singaporeair.com, SIA will be reducing London route seats effective from October 27. Last winter, SIA operated the route with three A380 flights and one B777-300ER service. For the coming winter, the route is likely be ‘downgraded’ to twice daily flights by A380 and a twice-daily service by B777-300ERs.
The Singapore flag-carrier is still claimed to be one of the world’s best and most successful airlines, but has been facing tepid demand and increased competition from regional and Middle Eastern carriers on long-haul routes to Europe and the U.S.
Since its first flight to the UK in the early 1970s, London has always been the carrier’s number one European destination. SIA’s operation in the UK has also been one of continual growth, and the airline has never had to downsize. But the current cutback is said to be due in part to the bleak European economic situation, as well as the intense competition that Asian carriers face from their Gulf rivals.
Reportedly, a sizeable number of SIA passengers departing London are not just destined for Singapore. Most of them have onward journeys to destinations in SE Asia and Australasia, which are mostly served by the big three Gulf carriers – Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways. The Gulf carriers offer keen fares and also operate out of many more airports in Europe than SIA does.
In recent times, SIA has been focusing on adding more capacity on regional flights to markets like China, Australia, Japan and India. In May, Singapore Airlines announced orders for aircraft valued at USD17 billion at list prices, split equally between Boeing and Airbus. The orders included 30 firm orders for B787-10X, a new version of the ‘Dreamliner’ jets, as well as a new order for 30 Airbus A350-900 planes.