Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Air New Zealand have struck a deal that will open up more flights and options for travellers between their two countries, while boosting Changi Airport’s hub status.
The agreement, inked here yesterday, marks the return of the Kiwi carrier to Changi, more than seven years after it pulled out, citing significant losses and greener pastures in North Asia.
It now aims to increase its presence in the Asia-Pacific, while SIA is keen to spread its wings in the South-west Pacific. Under the pact, Singapore-Auckland flights will increase from 12 to 14 a week.
SIA will replace the Boeing planes it now uses on the route with the bigger Airbus 380, while Air New Zealand will fly its refitted Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. The plan is to boost total capacity by up to 30 per cent.
The two carriers will jointly market and sell their flights.
For example, SIA customers will have access to Air New Zealand’s domestic destinations such as Wellington, as well as international routes to Australia and the Pacific Islands.
In turn, Air New Zealand can offer codeshare flights on SIA as well as its sister regional carrier SilkAir, which will open up new destinations in Asia, Europe and other markets.
It is not known when the flights will take off, as the deal requires approval from the authorities on both sides. But SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong told reporters that he did not expect any problem.
Tourist flows between Singapore and New Zealand have grown, with the number of Singapore travellers to New Zealand up by about 13 per cent last year from levels in 2012, according to the Kiwi tourism authority.
New Zealand tourists make up a small part of the Singapore market, but their numbers are also growing, travel agents said.
The Air New Zealand tie-up is the latest in a string of airline partnerships for SIA as it moves to expand its global footprint.
It is also in a venture with Indian conglomerate Tata to set up a new carrier in New Delhi.
The partnerships will benefit not just the Singapore carrier but also its home airport by bringing more passengers to and through Changi, analysts said.
For Air New Zealand, Changi will be its main gateway to the rest of Asia and beyond, said its chief Christopher Luxon.
The agreement with SIA forms the “cornerstone” of the airline’s global strategy, he said.
Changi Airport Group spokesman Ivan Tan said the deal will enhance Changi’s appeal as a transfer point. “We look forward to saying kia ora to Air New Zealand very soon,” he said, using the phrase for “hello” in the Maori language.
Source : The Straits Times | January 19, 2014