Keen on maximising use of the Airbus A380 – described as the “crown jewel” of its fleet – Singapore Airlines (SIA) yesterday launched daily commercial services on the superjumbo between Singapore and Hongkong.
“In our rostering process (of the aircraft), we discovered there were some downtimes when we could use the A380 on short sectors, and we went for it,” explained Huang Eng Cheng, SIA executive vice-president, marketing and the regions.
Despite the financial crisis and H1N1, loads between Hongkong and Singapore, according to Huang, “have been strong and continue to hold on”, which gave the carrier another reason to deploy its pride and joy on this particular route.
“But our choice of Hongkong for the A380 was indeed a surprise for many,” Huang admitted, adding SIA was not considering any more short-haul destinations, at least for now. “It’s not that simple to squeeze out a rostering programme.”
SIA officials claimed yesterday’s flight SQ861 was a full house (SIA’s A380 consists of 471 seats), and forward bookings look to yield above 80 percent passenger loads. “That’s very good for a big aircraft,” said Huang. “We have to be realistic, we can’t be full all the time.”
With many shared economic and cultural similarities, Singapore and Hongkong have always enjoyed a robust exchange of traffic. Shopping and eating, cited by visitors to both cities, as the most popular activities.
On the training side, Captain Gerard Yeap, SIA senior vice-president, flight operations, said the new service would allow more pilots to experience flying the A380.
SIA currently boasts nine A380s, which it utilises on the Singapore-Sydney, London, Paris and Tokyo routes. It expects to take delivery of three more by March 2010.
Hongkong International Airport has five parking bays that can handle the A380.
Online booking of a suite on this route costs US$3,257.90, a business class ticket costs US$2,210.42 and economy class is US$534.71.
The A380 service replaces a previous non-Airbus service, but the frequency between Hongkong and Singapore remains at five flights daily.
For more details, visit www.singaporeair.com
Margie T Logarta