Passengers booking the busy Singapore to Kuala Lumpur air service will finally see some competition starting next February.
The aviation authorities in both Singapore and Malaysia have granted rights to local carriers Jetstar Asia and Tiger (of Singapore) and Air Asia (of Malaysia) to begin a limited number of services in competition with the present incumbents.
For over 30 years this important 45-minute air shuttle, linking two of Asia’s most important cities, has been monopolised by SIA and Malaysia Airlines. It means that prices have stayed higher than they might normally have been while schedules have been inadequate at certain times of the day.
Tickets currently cost a flat rate of £150 (S$439) return with no reductions offered, as you would find on other routes, for passengers prepared to book ahead or who might wish to travel at less busy times.
There can also be awkward gaps of several hours in the incumbent’s flight schedules. SIA uses large B777s, rather than smaller B737s, on this route and so it will consolidate passengers on one flight rather than running a number of services which might better meet customer demand. In other words, there can be a gap of three or four hours between each SIA flight on this route.
The arrival of low-fare competitors next year will lead to a better range of fares and an increased choice of services for the passenger. It demonstrates that as South East Asia matures, consumers are demanding more competition and higher standards than they might have accepted in the past.
Details of the new schedules have yet to be announced.
Report by Alex McWhirter