Qantas moves A380 London stopover from Dubai to Singapore, the city with the world's best airport hub

It's said that you often never truly value something until it's gone. It's a maxim that could apply to Singapore, the island city-state that Australian travellers once loved to dismiss as a cultural desert (oh, the irony). But then Qantas, after partnering with Emirates, dumped it as a stopover in favour of a real desert destination.

In the meantime, as Qantas flirted with Dubai as its main hub for passengers en route to Europe, Singapore reinvented itself, with an array of new cultural and entertainment attractions, as a more dynamic destination, worthy of even a proper holiday than a mere stopover, and as a genuine global food capital.

Now our de facto national carrier has announced that it will reroute its daily, and prestigious, Sydney to London A380 service to fly via Singapore instead of Dubai, from March next year.

Timelapse: Inside the world's best airport

A day in the life of Singapore's Changi Airport, one of the world's busiest, portrayed in a stunning timelapse. Video: Changi Airport Group

Singapore's main daily newspaper, The Straits Times, described the decision as "a significant boost to Singapore's [Changi Airport] air hub status". Australia, as The Straits Times points out, remains among Changi Airport's top five markets in passenger traffic terms, with more than 5.5 million passengers travelling between Singapore and Australia annually.

The decision by Qantas will mean a considerably shorter first leg from Sydney compared to the extended one to Dubai (but, conversely, a longer hop to Europe from Singapore), and an opportunity for Australians to fully re-engage with clean, safe, efficient and friendly Singapore as a stopover, and more, destination.

Despite widespread admiration for Emirates as an first-rate airline, Australians, it seems, have never completely fallen for Dubai, as either a stopover or a holiday destination, with its tourism authorities failing to successfully position it in this market of prolific travellers.

SunJul9Cover-Changi - Changi Airport - Steve Meacham Jewel Changi Airport's magnificent Forest Valley Jewel Changi Airport is an iconic mixed-use complex being planned at Changi Airport. It is envisaged to be a world-class lifestyle destination that will strongly boost Changi?s attractiveness as an air hub. Artists impression

Artist's impress of Changi Airport's new development, The Jewel.​ Photo: Jewel Changi Airport

Not even an effort to establish the euphemism, "Arabian Peninsula", instead of "Middle East", as a designation for Dubai's location, has succeeded. Unbearably hot for half of the year and even more unwalkable, for the most part, than Los Angeles, Australians have tended to opt to go all the way on to the continent rather than breaking their journey in Dubai.

But, by the same token, Dubai, with its tiresome obsession for ever-taller structures, does have its allures: a somewhat overlooked historic "old town" area (with even the odd two-storey, rather multi-storey, hotel, heaven forbid), cooling pleasure cruises on Dubai Creek and some incredible day and overnight tours, operated by the Emirates-owned Arabian Adventures, into the desert.

Advertisement

What the Qantas announcement does represent, in the bigger scheme of global aviation, is a win for Singapore in the battle of the hubs, with the mammoth Middle East airports of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The Qantas announcement couldn't come at a better time for Singapore's much loved Changi Airport which is spending $S1.7 billion ($A1.6 billion) on The Jewel, an architecturally-striking (Dubai-like?) leisure, shopping and dining complex under construction in the air space between the main terminals.

Desert? Who said desert?

Anthony Dennis is editor of Fairfax Media's Traveller.

See also: What it's like to spend 24-hours inside Singapore's Changi Airport

See also: Skytrax names the world's best airports for 2017

LISTEN: Flight of Fancy - the Traveller.com.au podcast with Ben Groundwater

To subscribe to the Traveller.com.au podcast Flight of Fancy on iTunes, click here.