Changi Airport now prime choice for flying to Australia

The growth in Singapore-Australia air links with more flights, cities and seats has made Changi Airport a prime choice for travellers heading Down Under. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
The growth in Singapore-Australia air links with more flights, cities and seats has made Changi Airport a prime choice for travellers heading Down Under. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

THE growth in Singapore-Australia air links with more flights, cities and seats has made Changi Airport a prime choice for travellers heading Down Under.

The added capacity, as well as airlines battling to put bums on seats, has also brought fares down, said travel agents.

There are now nine carriers - the highest for any city - including Singapore Airlines (SIA), Qantas and British Airways, flying between Singapore and eight points in Australia. These include Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

This month, the carriers are selling close to 265,000 seats and operating 890 flights to Australia, according to industry numbers collated from advance information from the airlines. These are more than double what rival airports in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Dubai are offering. Auckland in New Zealand is the only city with more flights to Australia than Singapore does, but it has fewer seats.

Services between Singapore and Australia have increased gradually over the past few years, with the launch of SIA's long-haul budget carrier, Scoot, and other developments.

Travellers can expect even more flight options from Changi Airport, with plans by the SIA group to continue adding capacity to one of its key markets, even as it faces stiff competition in other markets. Regional arm SilkAir will launch services to Cairns on Saturday, while SIA will fly 31 times a week to Sydney, up from 28 now, from the end of July. Also, Scoot is adding flights to Perth, Sydney and Gold Coast from October and launching services to Melbourne on Nov 1.

Other carriers, such as Qantas and its low-cost offshoot, Jetstar Airways, also plan to expand their services to and from Singapore.

Despite Qantas moving its hub for Australia-Europe flights from Singapore to Dubai two years ago, Singapore remains a critical market, the airline's chief executive officer, Mr Alan Joyce, told The Straits Times recently.

When Qantas resumes flights from Perth to Changi at the end of next month, after a one-year absence, it will offer 9,150 seats a week in the Australia-Singapore market. Before the shift to Dubai, it was selling 6,800 seats a week, excluding those that used to be booked for Australia-Europe customers flying through Singapore.

Dynasty Travel director of marketing communications Alicia Seah said demand for flights to Australia from leisure and business travellers is up about 20 per cent year-on-year for the May- to-July season.

During the low season, in July for example, travellers can expect significant discounts, with all-inclusive fares to Melbourne and Sydney ranging from $650 to $850, down from over $1,000 during the high season.

With SIA facing stiff competition on routes to Europe and the United States from Middle Eastern and North-east Asian carriers, it has been investing significant resources into growing its foothold in Australia.

Last November, the airline inked a three-year A$12 million (S$12.6 million) deal with Tourism Australia to jointly fund a range of tourism campaigns and promotional activities in key markets.

Administrative executive Vivian Ng, 31, said: "With so many airlines... flying to Australia from here, there are always good deals, especially during the low travel season."

karam@sph.com.sg