The battle of the skies is heating up with more low-cost carriers joining in the fray to capture a slice of the long-haul business. Since 2012, 15 carriers have launched long-haul, low-lost operations worldwide, including five under full service airline groups.
One such carrier is Scoot, the low cost airline of the Singapore Airlines Group.
Scoot recently announced that it will be offering non-stop, four times weekly flights to Berlin in June this year; its second European destination after Athens and third-long haul route after Hawaii - all launched within a year.
The low-cost, ‘no-frills’ model is seemingly becoming more mainstream carriers vie for a bigger share in the transatlantic routes, typically regarded as the industry’s most lucrative markets.
“We are very much interested in flying long haul,” says Scoot’s Chief Commercial Officer, Vinod Kannan, at the launch of carrier’s Berlin route in Kuala Lumpur.
Scoot merged with Tiger Air Singapore mid-2017, as the company seeks to fend off growing competition. The consolidation of the budget carriers under one brand, according to Scoot’s chief Lee Lik Hsin, puts the airline in ‘good stead’ to launch long-haul operations.
“As a group, we want to offer as many destinations as we can. Singapore Airlines already have a lot of long-haul destinations in its network.” The full-service carrier currently flies to Berlin via code-sharing with other carriers, including Lufthansa.
“We also want to serve places that matches our image. So, places which our customers, basically the millennial and young at heart will identify with - which are quite hip and happening if you ask me,” says Vinod when asked how the three long-haul destinations, Berlin, Athens and Hawaii - were selected.
Scoot's Vinod Kannan: We May Not Be the Cheapest, But We Bring Value
With the launch of the Singapore-Berlin route, Scoot will be the first carrier in South East Asia to fly non-stop to the German city, connecting 64 destinations in the region, including six in Malaysia.
I think one of the key items that we have in our arsenal is the aircraft that we use the. The Dreamliner 787 is a wonderful aircraft
“The Malaysian market, for us, is pretty significant. We have 59 operations in Malaysia from Singapore (weekly), flying six points - Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Penang, Langkawi, Kuching and Kuantan. It is a significant operation and I think the fact that you can connect all these flights on to our Berlin flights makes it a very strong proposition. So we are confident,” Vinod says.
Ticket prices for the 13 hour Singapore-Berlin flights start from as low as RM1,807 for two-way tax-inclusive.The route is slated to start operations on 20 June, using Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
As part of its expansion plans, Scoot is also looking to double its current fleet size and increase destination routes.
The carrier currently has a mixed fleet of 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 24 Airbus 320s. It plans to add four more Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 39 Airbus A320neos to support its growth ambitions.
“It’s much easier to operate regional and short-haul because the costs and risks are lower. But for long haul, I think one of the key items that we have in our arsenal is the aircraft that we use the. The Dreamliner 787 is a wonderful aircraft; not just efficient but it’s also comfortable."
“All of our guests and passengers who have flown (in it) are happy with it. So, that helps. Because that allows us to have a product which is very different to our competitor,” says Vinod when asked about Scoot’s key differentiators between themselves and other low-cost, long-haul competitors in Asia.
“The other (differentiating) aspect is how we communicate with our customers,” Vinod adds.
“If you go on our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, (you can see) they way we interact is very casual and quirky. Something the young people will identify with. I think that gives us an advantage as well,” underscoring the kind of target market Scoot seeks to capture.
Scoot's Vinod Kannan: 17 Years in the Aviation Industry And This Surprises Me the Most
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