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SIA to axe Canberra-Wellington in new shakeup

January 25, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Singapore Airlines will axe its much-vaunted “Capital Express” service linking Canberra with Wellington New Zealand from this May as part of a major revamp of services.

Other airlines are also making changes, with United Airlines recently adding a new B787-9 Dreamliner flight from Houston, Texas, to Sydney and Qatar Airways is due to begin flights between Canberra and Doha, via Sydney, in a few weeks, from 12 February 2018. Qatar’s move will mean Canberra will be served by two foreign international carriers, the other being Singapore Airlines (SIA).

SIA is boosting other aspects of its Australian operations and is certainly not abandoning Canberra. SIA is actually upgrading its Canberra operations to daily and adding a fifth daily flight to Sydney.

SIA’s “Capital Express” service (Singapore-Canberra-Wellington and return, using a B777-200) began in September 2016, launched with much fanfare and support from Canberra and New Zealand. The trans-Tasman part of the route was reported to be struggling, however. During the first week of operation, SIA recorded an average load factor of just 35% on the Wellington to Canberra leg, though load factor built up.

SIA makes changes to Aussie services

The Singapore-Canberra-Wellington flight will now become a daily Singapore-Sydney-Canberra-Singapore operation. A B777-300ER aircraft will replace the current, smaller B777-200.

SIA will operate services to Canberra via Sydney using its 264-seat B777-300ER aircraft fitted with four first class seats, 48 business class seats, 28 premium economy class seats and 184 economy class seats.

SIA is also boosting flights to Melbourne, with flight SQ247/248 moving from three to four services a week and linking to Wellington. The plane operating that will be switched from the current Airbus A330 to a B777-200.

So passengers will be able to fly on SIA from Melbourne to Wellington, but not from Canberra to Wellington.

The new Singapore-Melbourne-Wellington service will be operated four times per week as SQ247 starting 3 May 2018. Return services will be operated as SQ248 on a Wellington-Melbourne-Singapore routing.

Flights will be operated with 266-seat Boeing 777-200s fitted with 38 Business Class seats and 228 Economy Class seats.

“We continue to expand our operations here in Australia and these changes will help to meet the growing demand we have seen in the three cities,” SIA regional vice president Philip Goh said.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who lobbied strongly for international flights to Canberra, aired his disappointment on Twitter about the end of the Wellington link.

“It’s sad that Singapore Airlines’ service to our sister city Wellington will now run through Melbourne,” Barr said.

“However, we will continue to develop and value our relationship with our friends in the New Zealand capital.”

Written by Peter Needham

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