Scoot, the low-cost carrier subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, is poised to announce its entry to the Indian market, with flights to two or three Indian destinations and connections to and from Australia through Singapore.
India’s Economic Times has speculated that Scoot will serve Chennai, Amritsar and Jaipur. Scoot’s Head of Commercial, Steven Greenway, who visited Australia recently, did not confirm any destinations, but he told Global Travel Media that Scoot was “looking to serve two or three destinations in India this year with first one starting at end of April. It’s going through the regulatory process now.”
Scoot has operated an all-Dreamliner fleet since August, with 10 B787s. Five are B787-800s and the other five are slightly longer B787-900s. Another five of each are in the pipeline, which will eventually bring the airline’s total fleet to 20 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
“The aircraft have been fantastic,” Greenway says.
“From a passenger perspective they have been well received, though it’s slightly less than what we were operating before in terms of seats. We used to have 402 seats on the B777s and its 375 on the B787-900s. The five B787-800 models have 335 seats. That’s a slightly smaller version we use for shorter routes, like into China.”
Scoot’s ‘Scoot in Silence’ class is another unique feature of the planes, completely child-free.
“It has caught on well and people really like the uniqueness of the cabin,” Greenway says. “It’s quite small, it’s quiet and has its own toilet.” Greenway admits this is his preferred area of the plane: “quiet, you don’t get disturbed and you can do a lot of work”.
There are just 36 or 46 Scoot in Silence seats per plane, depending on the model of B787. Greenway points out that the other four fifths of the aircraft are available to all passengers.
Scoot flies to Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Perth. The most recent Australian gateway is Melbourne, which began last November. Before seeking any other Australian destinations, Scoot wants to get Melbourne and the Gold Coast “as close to daily as possible”, Greenway says. Melbourne is the priority as the Gold Coast is highly seasonal and tourism-dependent, with big peaks in the school holidays.
As a low-cost carrier, Scoot pursues the leisure and VFR markets. It competes head-to-head long-haul with Jetstar only on Melbourne routes, Greenway says, where it is up against Jetstar’s service to Singapore. It doesn’t compete directly with Singapore Airlines, because the target markets are different.
“Singapore Airlines is a very premium-end product and is regarded as such,” he points out. “In Sydney, which was our first route, SQ has four services a day and we have one. It works perfectly in unison. We’re picking up the heavily discounted leisure traffic that might not normally travel on SQ.”
On some routes, Scoot is up against AirAsia X. “Obviously they’re hubbing over KL and they’re not going to Singapore—but it’s all the onward traffic they have up to Thailand and Vietnam we are obviously competing for as well. We want to take
traffic through and then redistribute it up through southeast Asia.”
Finally, Scoot offers travellers electric power in every seat and WiFi. There’s video streaming on all flights. “We don’t have seatback TVs,” Greenway says. “They cost a lot of money and they weigh a lot but we do allow streaming of new release content to your device, PC or iPad.”
Virgin Australia takes a similar attitude to in-flight entertainment, letting passengers bring their own devices rather than installing seatback screens.
“At the end of the day, when you take a one-hour flight, you see everyone has got their own iPad or phone or laptop or whatever the case may be. They’ve got their own content for the most part. We just give them the extra option of streaming.”
Scoot’s charges for in-flight WiFi are based on time, not bandwidth. You can have full access for the whole flight if you like – which would certainly make flying to India easier.
Written by Peter Needham