Singapore Airlines plans cut backs on London route

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.

Airlines Lure Passengers With Technological Gadgetry

In an age that is dominated by computer wizardry and the common expectation of immediate contact and interaction with ones social group, however far distant they might be, it is only to be expected that airlines will lure passengers with the promise of better, snazzier gadgets to play with during long, boring flights.

Hot on the heels of Virgin Atlantic Airways announcing that it will allow in-flight mobile phone calls, and British Airways already allowing text messaging on flights, smaller airlines are also cashing in on their passengers’ addiction with all things electronic.

One prime example is the announcement by Scoot, the low-cost subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, that it will be providing its customers with in-flight entertainment via I-pads, pre-loaded with popular films, TV shows, music and games. Passengers in the carrier’s business class cabin, ScootBiz, will have the use of a complimentary I-pad, while other passengers will have to rent them for around GBP11.50 per flight. Scoot eventually intends to provide on-board wireless Internet access, where passengers will be able to stream content from an on-board library, to their own electronic devices. This would be charged for on a pay per flight basis for economy passengers, but be provided as a complimentary perk for business class travellers.

Scoot are far from alone in their desire to provide the latest in in-flight entertainment, they are only a part of the current stampede to find the latest gizmos to blow their customers’ minds. This is good news for the technology industries, who will be only too keen to provide the airlines with ever more clever equipment to pacify the travelling hoards, in an arms race that is set to run and run, but probably not such good news for the traveller who just wants to sit back and enjoy a peaceful flight.