Singapore Airlines (SIA) is pipping rival Cathay Pacific to the post by becoming the second SE Asian carrier to serve Moscow. It has announced the launch of a three times a week Moscow-Singapore service on March 1 several weeks ahead of Cathay's Moscow-Hong Kong planned start date of March 27.
At present the routes between Moscow and SE Asia are ripe for development. Thai is the only SE Asian carrier serving Moscow (from Bangkok); all other services are flown by Russian carriers.
With its huge energy reserves generating vast sums, Russia is increasingly important both for in and out-bound business. These new links facilitate ease of travel via Hong Kong and Singapore to and from the entire Asia Pacific region.
SIA and Cathay Pacific are spreading their risks in the early days by including another destination in their schedules. Cathay's three times a week service (every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in each direction) with a B747 actually starts in Manchester. So besides being aimed at the Moscow to Hong Kong market it will also attract passengers flying from Manchester to Moscow as well as Manchester to Hong Kong because there are no direct flights on these latter two routes.
SIA's three times a week (every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday ex-Moscow ; a day earlier ex-Singapore) B777 service makes a stop in Dubai. It has traffic rights for Moscow-Dubai and Dubai-Singapore as well as Moscow-Singapore.
The new routes are great news for passengers using round-the-world tickets who no longer need to make backtracks when including these cities on a global circuit.
There is a concern that the launch date of Cathay's flight might be slightly delayed. Says a spokesperson, "We are still working towards a March 27 start date but there are details to be finalised with the Russians regarding a codeshare arrangement with Aeroflot on the Manchester-Moscow leg."
Report by Alex McWhirter