Singapore Airlines describes first year of Canberra service as “exciting and challenging”

Singapore Airlines first touched down in Canberra in September 2016. (Canberra Airport)
Singapore Airlines first touched down in Canberra in September 2016. (Canberra Airport)

Singapore Airlines (SIA) says India, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom have been the most popular destinations during an “exciting and challenging” first year of its Capital Express service linking Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

The Singapore-Canberra-Wellington flights kicked off a year ago on September 20 2016, when SQ291 operated by Boeing 777-200 9V-SRP took off from Singapore, landing in Canberra the following morning and then continuing on to Wellington.

The inaugural four times a week service marked the return of scheduled international service at Canberra Airport since the short-lived Air Pacific (now Fiji Airways) flights to Nadi in 2004.

“The first year has been exciting and challenging and we have established a good base to build on in the second year of operations,” SIA regional vice president Tan Tiow Kor said in a statement on Thursday.

“Over the next 12 months we will continue to work closely with key stakeholders in the region to promote Canberra as an exciting destination, and the Capital Express as the most convenient option when travelling internationally either to or from the Capital.

“We will also have a focus on increasing the volume and consistency of exports and freight being carried from Canberra to Singapore and beyond.”

Figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) for June – the latest data available – showed SIA carried 4,905 passengers on the Singapore-Canberra route (2,083 inbound and 2,822 outbound) in the month.

Meanwhile, the BITRE report said there were 1,853 passengers on the Canberra-Wellington (948 inbound and 904 outbound) flights.

While seasonality undoubtedly plays a role, the numbers have built up steadily in the 10 months since the service launched, for both the Canberra and Wellington markets.

In July, SIA said it would retime the service to open up more connection opportunities, as well as improve the operational efficiency of the route with the aircraft spending less time on the ground in Wellington and departing Singapore later in the evening.

To coincide with the one-year anniversary of SQ291/292, SIA has published a list of the top 10 destinations customers had travelled to from Canberra, as well as a list of the top 10 inbound destinations, during the first year of operations.

Excluding Singapore and Wellington, there were four cities common to both lists – Delhi and Mumbai in India, Hong Kong and London in the United Kingdom.

Tan said outbound travellers from Canberra had connected onto not just SIA-operated services beyond its Changi hub but also flights on the airline group’s regional wing SilkAir and low-cost carrier Scoot.

Further, the SIA executive said Star Alliance member and Virgin Australia partner and shareholder was pleased at the variety of destinations people were coming to Canberra from.

Canberra will welcome a second foreign carrier in February 2018, when Qatar Airways begins daily flights to the Australian capital as part of a Doha-Sydney-Canberra-Sydney-Doha routing with Boeing 777-300ERs.

Top 10 outbound destinations from Canberra
Top 10 inbound destinations to Canberra

Bangkok
Delhi
Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh City
Hong Kong
London
Mumbai
Phuket
Singapore
Wellington

Colombo
Delhi
Frankfurt
Hong Kong
Jakarta
Kuala Lumpur
London
Mumbai
Singapore
Wellington

Source: SIA