Sweet smell of success for low-cost carrier

On target to succeed ... Scoot Airlines.
On target to succeed ... Scoot Airlines. 

This newbie airline's one millionth passenger is not far off.

A year after launch the Singapore-based low-cost carrier, Scoot Airlines, has carried its 500,000th passenger. And according to the airline market analysis organisation the CAPA Centre for Aviation, that means the newbie airline is on target to succeed, barring catastrophes or downward pressures.

"Scoot passed the 500,000-passenger milestone on January 14, 2013, which, according to CAPA calculations, means the carrier has had an average load factor of 78 per cent since its launch," CAPA says on its website.

It also means more Scoot seats between Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. CAPA says expansion of Scoot's Australian service is firmly in the airline's sites, a strategy it is carrying out through affiliations with other carriers.

Indeed, Scoot will probably get to its 1 millionth passenger in a shorter space of time. Thanks to an agreement with Tiger Airways and the addition of other partner airlines (Singapore Airlines was already one), and despite a relatively low inventory of aircraft, Scoot virtually doubled in one hit the number of destinations it's selling fares to. In January, it announced 19 new cities taking the total offered to 44, all without adding any metal at all.

New destinations include Dhaka, Phnom Penh, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Bangalore, Kochi, Chennai, and Thiruvananthapuram.

Tiger Airways is an associate of Temasek Holdings, which is the holding company of Singapore Airlines, the parent company of Scoot. Singapore Airlines (SIA) owns 32.7 per cent of Tiger Airways.

It's all a bit complex, but essentially what this means for Australian travellers is they can fly cut-price through Singapore and on to various south-east Asian destinations via a combination of airlines, but need only book one ticket. The airlines are calling these tickets "joint itineraries" rather than codeshares - in industry jargon this is called an "interline".

It also means Aussie passengers buying cut-price tickets may find themselves in full-service economy-class seats on the premium airlines, SilkAir and SIA.

In an analysis of operations, CAPA says Australia can expect further service from Scoot, which currently only flies into Sydney and the Gold Coast. (Scoot passengers flying out of Perth and Melbourne currently take SIA seats.)

"Scoot plans to add destinations in Australia by partnering with Tiger Australia," CAPA says. "As Tiger Australia does not serve Singapore, in this case the transit point will be at Sydney and/or the Gold Coast."

CAPA says Scoot may add more Australian destinations as early as this year.

 

Stopovers with style

Starting in April, customers travelling on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir who stop over in Singapore are being offered free entry to Universal Studios Singapore and Night Safari as well as Gardens by the Bay as part of SIA's Singapore Stopover Holiday program.

The program, going strong since 1999, is a suite of accommodation and attractions options designed as a sweetener to entice more traffic through Singapore, and of course, more stopovers.

This is the first time free entry to Universal Studios, Night Safari and selected conservatories at Gardens by the Bay has been offered.

The program, which includes accommodation, return airport transfers and attraction inclusions, starts from $30 a person, twin share, for the first night. singaporeair.com.

 

Increased allowance

International shopaholics rejoice: China Southern Airlines has increased its checked baggage allowances for economy passengers travelling overseas on tickets issued in Australia to pretty much twice that of many, making cheap and cheery trinkets at the markets seem a whole lot more attractive.

China Southern's economy allowance is now two 23-kilogram bags a person. Yep, count 'em: two. That's 16 ahead of Emirates's generous 30 kilograms all up and miles ahead of many other airlines.

Qatar Airways has the same two 23-kilogram-bag allowance. China Eastern, Air China, Virgin Australia and Qantas have it to the Americas, but Qantas only has it for premium economy passengers elsewhere. (Both allow more for loyalty club members.)

At the pointy end, China Southern's new baggage allowances are in line with the competition: China Southern allows business-class passengers to check in two pieces up to 32 kilograms each, and first-class passengers to check in three pieces weighing up to 32 kilograms each. Infants with no seat are allowed 10 kilograms.

China Southern's previous baggage allowances were 40 kilograms a person for first and business, while in economy it was 30 kilograms.

The regional general manager Australia New Zealand for China Southern, Henry He, says the increased baggage allowance is in line with the airline's commitment to offer competitive fares and benefits to Australian travellers.

Dimension restrictions, however, do apply.

Most airlines have their luggage allowances on their websites. It's always worth checking, as they can vary greatly for different routes and classes of travel and may be increased for club members.

 

Top of the tastes

Flight search site Skyscanner's latest survey of inflight meal quality has pulled up a few surprises.

Two hundred travellers rated their inflight meals based on taste, presentation and choice, as well as value for money.

Tiger Airways triumphed in the "low-cost airline" category, pipping Scoot, AirAsia, Korean airline Jeju Air and China's Spring Airlines, which completed the top five.

Singapore Airlines won the "short haul" category, with Garuda Indonesia, Korean Air, Philippine Airlines and China Southern making up the top five.

It was in the long-haul category that the real surprise arose. Garuda Indonesia pipped Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, AirAsia X and Air China for dining.

 

Route watch

As of March 28, Dragonair will fly between its Hong Kong base and Da Nang, Vietnam, the 12th destination launched or resumed by the airline in less than a year. The new, three-times-weekly service will be operated by A320 aircraft.

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