Singapore Airlines to fly between Canberra and Wellington, New Zealand? It’s possible. At least one Asian airline is definitely preparing to launch a new A330 service from its home base to Australia and then on to New Zealand – and Singapore Airlines may follow.
The confirmed trans-Tasman venture is to be mounted by AirAsia X, which is launching a Kuala Lumpur/Gold Coast/Auckland service from 22 March 2016, using an A330-300.
The longer shot is Singapore Airlines, which is tipped by the Australian Financial Review to be about to announce Singapore/Canberra/Wellington flights. That would be a real breakthrough for Canberra, as there’s not a single scheduled international flight in or out of Australia’s national capital – other than those which pass through other Australian points such as Sydney or Melbourne.
The Financial Review says Singapore Airlines chief executive Goh Choon Phong will arrive in Canberra next week to announce the start of four-times-weekly A330 flights between Singapore and Canberra. The flights will then continue to Wellington, where the airport is just big enough to take an A330 – though it would become the largest aircraft type to fly there. Wellington Airport is known for its interesting landings. See: Screams on white-knuckle Jetstar and Air NZ flights
AirAsia X is already selling its own new trans-Tasman route. From this morning until 24 January 2016, or until sold out, the Malaysia-based low-cost carrier is offering an introductory fare of AUD 119 one-way from the Gold Coast to Auckland. The travel period is from 22 March 2016 to 5 February 2017.
In New Zealand, meanwhile, AirAsia X is luring Kiwi tourists to the Gold Coast with introductory fares starting from NZD 99 one way. Inaugural one-way fares from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur via the Gold Coast start at NZD 249.
It’s not the first time AirAsia X has served New Zealand. In April 2011, it began scheduled services, with four-times-weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur to Christchurch. It abandoned the route in May 2012 to focus on Asia and Australia.
Yesterday, AirAsia X chief executive Benyamin Ismail proclaimed the new Auckland service on Twitter. On the Gold Coast/Auckland leg, the new route will pit AirAsia X against Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand.
AirAsia’s A330-300 carry up to 377 passengers and are configured with 365 economy seats and 12 premium flatbed seats.
Written by Peter Needham