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With the launch this month of nonstop flights between Seattle and Singapore, Singapore Airlines is furthering its commitment to the U.S. — and extending its leadership position as one of the most innovative carriers crossing the Pacific. The new flights, which launch on September 3, “are part of the largest expansion in flight frequency in Singapore Airlines’ U.S. history,” said a Singapore Airlines spokesperson.
The airline now operates nonstop flights to Singapore from Los Angeles, New York City’s Newark Liberty International, San Francisco, and Seattle. It also operates one-stop trips to Singapore from Houston, Los Angeles, New York’s J.F.K. International Airport, and San Francisco. In total, with the introduction of the Seattle flights, the airline will offer 57 flights a week between Singapore and the U.S.
“Our new nonstop flights to Seattle are another demonstration of our commitment to expand our operations in the important U.S. market and grow our network reach,” said Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong in a statement. “The new services will also further strengthen the Singapore hub by providing customers faster and more convenient connectivity from key markets such as Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Australasia to North America.”
One key driver is the new fleet of Airbus A350 planes that Singapore Airlines has deployed. The company operates two variants of this technologically advanced aircraft on its U.S. routes, the A350-900 long-haul and the A350-900ULR, with two different cabin configurations. These jets are fitted with fuel-efficient engines and are built from lightweight composite materials, factors that enable them to make lengthy trips between the U.S. and Southeast Asia. The new Seattle-Singapore flights, for example, take roughly 15 hours, on A350-900 long-haul aircraft “fitted with 42 business class, 24 premium economy class, and 187 economy class seats,” the airline said.
The new Seattle flights are also well-timed for onward connections, a spokesperson said, “including Bali, Bangkok, Phuket, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad, among others. In addition, the flight will provide the fastest service from the Pacific Northwest to Western Australia (Perth, via Singapore).”
Part of a Bold International Strategy
By combining technological innovation with new reach, Singapore Airlines is defining the future of aviation with bold moves. As one of the first carriers to operate the A350-900, Singapore Airlines was able to forge new connections that were previously impossible to achieve — or at least achieve economically.
“The collective A350 fleet is easier to maintain, has higher fuel efficiency, and has higher operational reliability than the aircraft it replaces, all of which improves operating economics,” said a Singapore Airlines spokesperson. “The A350 entered our fleet at a time when some of our older aircraft are being phased out, thus acting as a natural replacement for these aircraft.”
The new plane’s capabilities enabled not just the resumption of the world’s longest flight — an incredible 18-and-a-half-hour journey from New York to Singapore — but also additional connectivity between Southeast Asia and the U.S. “We have pushed the limits with this highly advanced new aircraft to extend long-range flying to new lengths,” said Goh in a statement. “The A350-900ULR will bring more convenience and comfort to our customers and will enable us to operate ultra-long-range flights in a commercially viable manner. It will help us boost our network competitiveness and further grow the Singapore hub.”
That’s something of a focus for Goh, who discussed the importance of reaching new markets not just in the U.S. but also across Asia with high-quality service during an appearance at Skift Forum Asia. “We’ll certainly do our part to connect Singapore more to the rest of the world,” Goh said on stage during the event.
Building Singapore as a Destination and Regional Hub
The growth comes as the carrier is enjoying “strong long-haul premium demand [in 2019],” reported Skift Airline Weekly. “The U.S. is a critical market for Singapore Airlines, with lots of premium traffic,” said Jay Shabat, senior analyst at Skift Airline Weekly, in an interview. “Perhaps most helpfully right now, [operating in the U.S.] allows the carrier to gain more exposure to markets other than Asia-Pacific which is overrun with capacity [that’s] driving down yields. The new extended-range Airbus A350s open new nonstop markets for them.”
“U.S. expansion makes a lot of sense,” Shabat said. “They’re operating in a premium market, with growing demand to Asia and with next-generation aircraft that improve the economics of intercontinental flying.”
The carrier also has a strong ally in Changi Airport, one of the world’s most frequently lauded hubs for international connections. In April, the airport added the Jewel Changi, a new $1.3 billion mixed use building with a stunning indoor waterfall, countless dining options, automated check in and baggage handling, numerous lounge areas, and a top-notch transit hotel for connecting passengers. The ambitious project is “changing the idea of what an airport can be,” wrote Skift’s Raini Hamdi in March. (Changi is planning to open yet another terminal by 2030.)
All of this has aviation insiders wondering what comes next for the carrier. After all, there are many more cities in the U.S. within the A350’s incredible 9,700–nautical mile range.
“Singapore Airlines could conceivably come in to Chicago’s O’Hare or Washington, D.C. and shave off a segment of United’s traffic, particularly passengers bound for points in Southeast Asia,” said Madhu Unnikrishnan, editor of Skift Airline Weekly. “Singapore Airlines is more than able to compete with them.”