SIA’s new low-cost subsidiary demonstrates yet again that space is the most precious commodity on any plane.
As we revealed yesterday (see online news November 1) Scoot will launch in the middle of next year with the offer of cheaper tickets.
Its first destinations are tipped to be both main and secondary cities in Australasia and China. Services to Europe will follow. It’s not inconceivable that Scoot will ply certain major routes alongside its parent carrier SIA. The idea being that Scoot will offer passengers an alternative, less expensive, product.
Scoot has been set up by SIA to protect its market share in face of ever fiercer competition from Malaysia’s Air Asia/Air AsiaX and Australia’s Jetstar.
The budget carrier will utilise a number of B777-200ERs which have seen service with SIA on various long distance routes and are now surplus to requirements.
Right now, these aircraft (which are not equipped with SIA’s most up-to-date seating) operate some of SIA’s less busy routes into mainland Europe. They can be found on services linking Singapore with Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Rome.
So what can Scoot passengers expect to find?
The good news is that, unlike most other budget carriers, Scoot will allow its passengers to interline (ie through check flights and baggage) with its parent SIA. It means that a Scoot passenger who has, perhaps, originated in Australia would be able to switch in Singapore to an onward SIA service to Hong Kong or London Heathrow.
Another selling point is that Scoot will operate from Singapore Changi’s Terminal 2 rather than the airport’s more remote budget airline terminal. This will facilitate flight transfers.
The bad news is that Scoot’s promise of lower fares translates into denser on-board seating. Right now in the SIA configuration, the B777-200ERs accommodate 285 passengers. But in the Scoot layout they are likely to carry around 370 passengers.
SIA’s B777-200ERs feature nine across (3-3-3) seating in economy class with business class disposed six across (2-2-2).
In the Scoot configuration, the nine across seating becomes 10-across (3-4-3). It’s a B777 layout which is regularly criticised by readers of Businesstraveller.com.
Where 10 abreast might be acceptable on four or five hour flights linking Singapore with mainland China but it does not appeal for eight hour stages to Sydney or 12 to 13 hour legs to Europe.
Business class moves from six across to eight across (2-4-2). Not only that but, according to Sydney-based aviation consultancy CAPA, the business seating will comprise “old-style” recliner seats and not the newer angled lie-flat seating adopted by long-haul rival Air AsiaX.
According to CAPA, Scoot’s business class seating will be manufactured by German firm Zim (www.zim-flugsitz.de). This company’s business class product consists solely of recliner seating.
For more information, visit flyscoot.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter