Change Your Altitude

Surprise! Singapore Airlines Launches Stockholm (via…Moscow!?)

Singapore Airlines (SQ) is known as one of the best airlines flying today – and has been one of the world’s most premier carriers out there. But they are also known as one of the most conservative – the foil to the aggressive and ambitious expansion of Emirates.

So the announcement of this route kind of comes out of left field, especially given that there were rumors of buzz of an imminent new Singapore Airlines European route (a continent the airline has been kind of struggling on as of late).

We knew that Moscow (DME) had been decoupled with the Houston (IAH) tag on. The introduction of the non-stop Manchester flight (no doubt meant to compete with Cathay Pacific’s own new services there) meant that SQ moved their Houston tag on to the Manchester route, dropping the pre-existing Munich-Manchester tag. This freed up a tag on to be added to Moscow – while many speculated another trans-Atlantic hop, some thought that Moscow would just simply be dropped.

We now have our answer. And it’s not what many of us expected.

Singapore Airlines will be operating the route with the newest addition to their fleet – the state of the art Airbus A350. This flight will be the first scheduled intra-Europe A350 route.

The Scoop:

Starting May 30, 2017, Singapore Airlines has officially announced their second destination in Scandanavia – Stockholm, Sweden Flights to Arlanda International Airport (ARN) will operate as a tag on from Moscow both ways. Their current only destination in the region is non-stop to Copenhagen, Denmark and is operated by their oldest business class product on their oldest 777 sub-fleet. Lie flat beds with no direct aisle access is unbecoming of an airline of SQ’s status on a 12+ hour long haul overnight flight.

In contrast, the new flights will switch over from the premium heavy 777-300ER fleet with 4 cabins to the 3 cabin (no First Class) brand spankin’ new A350-900. This means Singapore Airlines’ newest Business Class seat, which, let’s face it – is one of the best out there.

The newest iteration of SQ Business Class will be flown on the route – newer than what’s offered on the majority of their A380 long haul fleet. Score!

Flights to Moscow and now further to Stockholm will increase from 4x weekly to 5x weekly as a result of the change.

The new schedules are quite appealing and look something like this:

Singapore – Moscow:  0020-0600
Moscow – Stockholm: 0715-0825
Stockholm – Moscow:  1025-1330
Moscow -Singapore: 1500.0615 (+1)

People will be able to book flights for the intra-Europe leg between DME and ARN, which is great news for folks who want the famous SQ service with a real business class seat on a widebody brand new airplane. In fact, in the official press release Singapore Airlines announced that the flight would actually be a joint venture with fellow Star Alliance member Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), which is quite the move:

Star Alliance partner Scandinavian Airlines will codeshare on the new services. Subject to approval from competition authorities, the new services will also be included in a joint venture agreement between the two airlines that took effect in 2013 covering flights between Scandinavia and Singapore.
“We have been evaluating services to Stockholm for several years and are pleased that we can now introduce services to the Swedish capital using the newest aircraft in our fleet, the Airbus A350-900. It is encouraging that our partnership with Scandinavian Airlines is going from strength to strength,” said SIA’s CEO, Mr Goh Choon Phong.
“This is another example of how together with partners we can jointly offer more travel options for our customers, bringing Southeast Asia and Scandinavia closer in addition to meeting increasing demand for travel between Southwest Pacific and Northern Europe. With the new services to Stockholm complementing existing flights to Copenhagen, customers will soon have the choice of two convenient gateways to explore the increasingly popular Nordic countries.”

Absolutely massive for European based and more especially Scandinavian based Star Alliance members.

The Takeaway:

While our European brothers and sisters will benefit the most from this new transit to Asia and way of travel within Europe, this flight benefits American based Star elites as well. United has a rather weak presence in Scandinavia – they’ve recently just pulled their Oslo flights – and have a token presence in Denmark with daily 757 flights to Copenhagen from Newark but thus far nothing in Sweden.

If Stockholm is your final destination then why not hop on a UA widebody with a better product – the airline operates the 767 to Moscow from Newark, Dulles and Chicago – and use this flight that actually connects quite well with United operations into Russia.

It’s also great that the flights will be a full joint venture with SK, which means extensive codeshares. Singapore Airlines is notriously reluctant to do a codeshare let alone a JV, so this seems to be signalling a willingness to work with other Star partners within the alliance – which as a UA 1K I say halle-freakin-lujah!

It’s also great to see another Star Alliance airline in ARN, an important market with the largest Star FF member count within all of Scandanavia. SQ joins SK (hub), Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Thai Airways and Turkish Airlines in town.

Given the state of the Russian economy it’s not a given how this flight will do, but it’s a refreshing change to see Singapore Airlines actually take a risk and try to make a route work. It’s also awesome to see them start to actually coordinate with their partners in an actual cohesive way in partering with SK on the route and connecting the flight well with United’s own operations into Moscow.

I for one am excited not only for the actual flight itself but what it might mean – are we seeing a change of tune in SQ’s dealings with Star Alliance? Are they actually going to be a full on cooperating member??




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