SilkAir Adds Cairns as Second Australian Destination

SilkAir is to boost its presence in the Australian market in 2015 with the introduction of flights between Singapore’s Changi International Airport and Cairns, Queensland from the end of May 2015. The new destination will be served as a triangle route with its existing Singapore – Darwin service, which will see a 50 per cent frequency to accommodate the revised schedule.

The airline, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, launched flights to Australia in March 2012 with the introduction of flights to Darwin supporting the strategy of its parent airline and allowing the group to grow its network in the country to six destinations: Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. The introduction of the Cairns route next year is an extension of this strategy.

“This is an exciting development for SilkAir, to be able to expand our presence in the Australian market,” said Leslie Thng, chief executive officer, SilkAir. “We believe this new service will be of interest to the leisure travellers as Cairns is well known for being the gateway to the popular Great Barrier Reef.”

SilkAir will serve the Cairns market three times weekly from May 30, 2015 and will boost its existing Singapore – Darwin link from four times weekly to six times weekly from the same date. The Darwin route was initially flown using a mix of Airbus A319s and A320s but from last month SilkAir has started to deploy its new Boeing 737-800s on the route.

The revised Australia schedule will see SilkAir offer return Singapore - Darwin flights on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. On Saturdays the service will depart Singapore, fly direct to Cairns and return via Darwin, with the two remaining flights on Mondays and Thursdays serving Cairns via Darwin and returning to Singapore direct. As a result of these changes, all of SilkAir’s flights departing from Darwin to Singapore will operate during daylight hours.

“SilkAir’s Singapore flights have been a successful addition to the Darwin network since they began in 2012, as they create opportunities for Top End travellers to connect to destinations around the world on both SilkAir and its parent, Singapore Airlines. It’s fantastic to see ongoing commitment to the route, which connected the airline to Australia for the first time,” said Jim Parashos, director commercial and aviation development of Darwin Airport parent, NT Airports.

This announcement represents the return of regular air services between Singapore and Cairns for the first time in almost nine years since Australian Airlines ended its four times weekly non-stop link between the cities in June 2006. Our analysis of MIDT data shows that more than 50,000 O&D passengers were flying between Singapore and Cairns when it was previously connected with direct flights.

Queensland Minister for Tourism Jann Stuckey said SilkAir is expected to deliver about 20,000 extra visitors to the region, with the route to generate $14 million in visitor spending during its first year of operation. The airline’s arrival in the state has been supported by its Aviation Investment Fund, which was launched last year to secure new aviation business and routes into Queensland.

The Singapore service will provide an enormous boost to the region’s tourism industry, with connectivity between Singapore and Cairns making it even easier for international visitors to reach the popular holiday destination and for locals to travel overseas.

“The Queensland government looks forward to working in partnership with SilkAir to deliver international marketing activities over the next three years to support this highly anticipated service,” added Stuckey.

The addition of the new Cairns route brings the number of destinations in SilkAir’s network to 49 across 12 countries and follows just weeks after SilkAir announced it would join its parent on the Singapore – Denpasar route with the operation of a fifth daily rotation on the route from December 12, 2014. The new SIlkAir departure will be the first departure of the day and the narrowbody service will complement the later widebody flights from Singapore Airlines on the route.

“By synergising the networks of both airlines, we are able to enhance the connectivity options available to our customers through our combined network of 99 cities in 35 countries,” said Lee Wen Fen, senior vice president planning, Singapore Airlines.

In our analysis, below, we look in greater detail at non-stop capacity between Singapore and Australia. According to data from OAG Schedules Analyser, available seats between the two countries have risen 20.3 per cent between 2004 and 2013, an average annual growth rate of 2.3 per cent. Approximately 3.5 million seats are now available on non-stop services from Singapore to Australia, with more capacity available when you consider triangle routes and continuation flights.

Data provided by OAG

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…