Lower fares to India likely as more routes, flights added

A growing Indian expatriate population here and strong Singapore-India trade links are fuelling the demand for travel between the two nations, with competition among carriers bringing fares down for travellers, experts say.
A growing Indian expatriate population here and strong Singapore-India trade links are fuelling the demand for travel between the two nations, with competition among carriers bringing fares down for travellers, experts say.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Cheaper fares and new routes likely as airlines cash in on more leisure and business travellers

Singapore-India travellers can expect more flights, new routes and possibly lower fares in the future, as airlines ramp up services to cater to a growing number of leisure and business travellers.

For the first time in at least five years, India is expected to overtake traditional heavyweights China and Indonesia to become the fastest-growing market for Changi, among its top 10 country markets.

Together, the top 10 account for about 80 per cent of the airport's total traffic.

New links to Pune, Madurai, Bhubaneswar and Guwahati are being explored, to add to the 15 cities in India that airlines already operate to from Singapore, said Changi Airport Group's managing director for air hub development Lim Ching Kiat.

Between January and May, more than 1.7 million passengers travelled between Singapore and India, a 15 per cent jump compared with the same period last year, he told The Straits Times.

By comparison, traffic to and from China during the same time grew by 12 per cent, while Singapore-Indonesia traffic increased by 9 per cent.

There are currently nine airlines, including Singapore Airlines, Scoot, Tigerair, Air India and Jet Airways, that fly between Singapore and India.

 
  • INCREASE IN NUMBER OF TRAVELLERS

  • 15%

    Singapore-India passengers

  • 12%

    Singapore-China passengers

  • 9%

    Singapore-Indonesia passengers

  • NOTE: Figures for January to May this year, compared with same period last year.

Among the Indian cities, top-performing routes include Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore.

The traffic increase has come on the back of additional capacity provided by airlines with more flights and flying bigger aircraft.

This led to a 21 per cent increase in the number of seats on the Singapore-India sector in the first five months of this year, compared with the same period last year.

Just last week, India's largest domestic carrier, IndiGo, launched a new daily non-stop service between Singapore and Bangalore.

A growing Indian expatriate population here and strong Singapore-India trade links are fuelling demand for travel between the two countries, with competition among carriers bringing fares down for travellers, experts say.

According to the High Commission of India in Singapore, the Republic is among India's largest trade and investment partners, accounting for more than 22 per cent of India's overall trade with Asean countries from 2014 to 2015.

Madam Ramani, 65, who used to travel once a year to Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu for leisure, now makes the trip two or three times a year.

Said the housewife, who goes by one name: "I used to pay about $550 for a return flight but now that there are more flights and more airlines on the route, the fare has come down to about $400, which is good for me."

Indian travellers also feature significantly among transfer and fly-cruise passengers, Mr Lim said.

India is currently the third- largest contributor of Changi Airport's transfer traffic, after Australia and Indonesia.

Last year, about 100,000 cruise passengers from India - the highest for any country - were registered by the Singapore Tourism Board.

To engage the Indian traveller, Changi Airport has a geo-targeted website for residents of India, where content is personalised based on their interests and travel habits, Mr Lim said.

Over 625,000 of Changi Airport's two million Facebook fans are from India, and they are also among the most engaged followers, said Mr Lim.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2017, with the headline 'India set to soar as Changi's growth market'. Print Edition | Subscribe