Singapore Airlines will launch non-stop service to New York City in November. The thrice weekly service brings back flights on the world’s longest route and, for the first time, will operate it to JFK airport rather than Newark.
The fundamental importance of air travel remains unchanged despite the pandemic. Air travel can bridge long distances and physically bring together families and friends, support both business and leisure trips, and has a direct impact on economic growth and job creation. That gives us confidence about the medium to long-term prospects for the industry.– Lee Lik Hsin, Executive Vice President Commercial for Singapore Airlines
Cargo demand remains a driving force
There is no doubt that cargo demand plays a major role in the decision to operate these flights. The company mentions shifting the service to JFK will “allow Singapore Airlines to better accommodate a mix of passenger and cargo traffic on its services to New York in the current operating climate.” The carrier also “anticipates significant cargo demand from a range of industries based in the New York metro area, including pharmaceuticals, e-commerce and technology firms.”
But cargo is not the only consideration. The carrier calls out a “growing number of transfer passengers who can now transit via Singapore’s Changi Airport” in driving the decision. Indeed, that may be part of why the company is choosing the 350-900 rather than the ULR version for service. Though with many of the seats likely empty to start, it may not matter too much. It also means that the carrier can sell economy class fares, not just premium cabins, for the route. That would not be possible on the ULR model as it only carries premium economy and business class cabins.
In announcing the return of service Mr. Lee Lik Hsin, Executive Vice President Commercial for Singapore Airlines called out top ultra-long routes as “the bedrock of our services” to the US market and indicated that other service will be reinstated as the market demand returns. Still, the carrier expects to operate only 15% of its 2019 capacity by the end of Q4 2020. Almost none of the carrier’s routes currently operating fly daily.
JFK will join Los Angeles as a North America destination for the carrier. That route also operates 3x weekly on the A350-900.
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