Singapore based low-cost carrier Scoot plans to increase capacity to Australia by more than 10 percent this year as it opens up Berlin as its second destination in Europe.
The airline has recently boosted flights to the Gold Coast from four to five and plans later this year to increase services to Sydney from seven to eight and to Melbourne from five to seven.
The increases come on the back of good load factors and passenger numbers out of Australia and in the expectation Aussies will continue to take advantage of the carrier’s low fares to Europe.
“So around Australia this year we’ll be looking for an increase of at least 10 to 15 percent,’’ Scoot chief commercial officer Vinod Kannan told AirlineRatings during a visit to Sydney. “That’s very significant.
“The load factors are doing well and, of course, with more connecting flights like Berlin and Athens coming online we think there are more options for travelers so that’s going to help the (Australian) routes as well.”
Not seeing an increase is Perth, which already has a daily Boeing 787 service and doesn’t need the additional capacity at this stage.
Scoot will be able to say “Ich bin ein Berliner” from June 20 when it launches four times weekly flights from Singapore. The airline already flies from Singapore to Athens and Honolulu but Kannan conceded the jury is still out within the industry about the viability of long-haul, low-cost routes.
The routes, he said, are promising but difficult.
“Many people have tried before and it’s not easy to do, especially the true long-haul — Singapore-Europe and Singapore-US,’’ he said.
“The further you fly the cost of the flight goes up, it’s not linear, so obviously it’s tougher to make it work.
“But I think we’ve got a few things that we think will help us succeed.”
Foremost among these is the airline’s fleet of new 787s — the average fleet age is 2.5 years — with a range of seat options.
The well-publicised advantages of Boeing’s Dreamliner include higher cabin pressure and humidity, big overhead bins and natural lighting from the bigger windows.
Scoot’s 787s offer a premium economy-like cabin called ScootBiz with 22-inch wide full leather recliner seats offering a 38-inch seat pitch in a 2-3-2 configuration. Passengers in this class get 30kg of checked luggage with food, drinks and entertainment included.
There’s also a child-free ScootinSilence economy class quiet zone with seat pitches ranging from 31 inches to 34 inches.
Even at the low-end, Scoot’s 31-inch seat pitch is equivalent to the seating configuration employed by many full-service 787 operators.
“And I think it’s quite spacious,’’ Kannan said. “If you compare it to some of the full-service carriers who are not on the 787, they are actually more cramped because the thinner seats on the 787 give you an edge and the feeling of more space.”
Economy customers have the option of just buying a seat and paying for extras such as bags, meals and drinks or a bundle that includes bags or bags and meals.
Also available for a price are extras such as inflight wi-fi, in-seat power, seat selection and entertainment.
“Our 787s are new, they’re young, they’re efficient and I think they are well sought after by customers, so that’s good,’’ said Kannan.
Scoot also codeshares with parent Singapore Airlines, giving passengers flying from Australia the flexibility to mix-and-match fares to take advantage of the full-service airline’s bigger range of frequencies.
Singapore flies to Frankfurt and Munich and Scoot’s new flights to Berlin give the group a third destination in the important German market.
“The last thing, of course, is marketing,’’ Kannan said. “So we hope that we do a good job of marketing our product to the passenger and they remember what our product stands for.”
Scoot’s promotional fares from Australia’s East Coast will get passengers to Berlin from $A718 return (including taxes) and from $2158 return in Scootbiz.
And expect to see more of Scoot’s bright yellow planes: it aims to double its fleet in the next five years and has 39 A320neos on order.
This would be up from the 40 aircraft — the 16 787s and 24 A320s — Scoot currently operates after its integration with sister low-cost carrier Tigerair Singapore.
The combined carrier now operates under the Scoot brand to 63 destinations in 17 countries, including 20 points in China and seven in India.