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Travel & Holiday

Scoot to start flights to Nanjing, its 10th destination

BUDGET long-haul carrier Scoot will begin flying to its 10th destination Nanjing next Tuesday, on the eve of its one-year anniversary.
The Straits Times - May 31, 2013
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Scoot to start flights to Nanjing, its 10th destination

BUDGET long-haul carrier Scoot will begin flying to its 10th destination Nanjing next Tuesday, on the eve of its one-year anniversary.

Reflecting on the route travelled since it launched its first flight to Sydney in early June last year, chief executive Campbell Wilson said he was satisfied with the airline's performance so far.

It welcomed its millionth passenger earlier this week, and has announced 11 destinations in total including Sydney, Tokyo, Seoul and Chinese cities such as Tianjin.

Through its expansion, Scoot has sold more than 80 per cent of seats on its flights.

This is "evidence that we are offering something people want, at a price people want", said Mr Wilson.

From a team of five people poring over the drawing table, the airline has grown to a staff of 400 now.

The long-haul carrier, which is the low-cost arm of Singapore Airlines (SIA), also took over its fifth Boeing 777-200 jet recently, bringing its fleet to five.

Mr Wilson said: "It gives us a little bit more buffer. If there is an issue with one of the other aircraft scheduled to operate, there is a spare aircraft to deploy."

Scoot, which made the news earlier this year for a series of delays, is expecting delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner late next year. It has ordered 20 in total.

He said it is possible that Scoot will expand its range of destinations further only when it receives its B-787 jets.

On how Scoot fits into SIA's strategy, he explained that it allows its parent company to capture a slice of the low-cost segment in Asia, which is seeing plenty of growth.

He noted that SIA operates in markets, such as Europe, that are economically slow-going, while subsidiaries Scoot and SilkAir operate in a region with stronger growth. "It's no surprise that the parent is facing headwinds which the carriers focused on Asia are not facing," he said.

The outlook for the low-cost, medium- to long-haul market is encouraging, he added. He pointed to how in the 12 months before Scoot began flying between Singapore and Sydney, the number of Singaporeans arriving in the Australian city had dropped by 0.4 per cent year on year.

Singaporean arrivals to Sydney have now increased by 33 per cent in the six months since Scoot began operating a daily flight between both cities, he said.

"There is a demand for the opportunity to travel with value," he noted.

Asked about the airline's financials, Mr Wilson declined to share details. He would only say the airline is "ahead of internal targets set for ourselves".

Separately, SIA yesterday announced an order of 30 Airbus A350-900s and 30 Boeing 787-10Xs in deals valued at more than US$17 billion (S$21.4 billion).

ROYSTON SIM

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