SINGAPORE - Amid travel jitters surrounding the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, Singapore Airlines (SIA) has announced it will launch its fifth daily flight to the Australian city of Perth later this year.
Starting from June 1, flight SQ229 will leave Singapore at 12.20pm and reach Perth at 5.25pm.
It will return as flight SQ230 from Perth at 6.40pm the same day and reach Singapore at 12.10am the following morning.
SIA and the Western Australia government will jointly promote the state as a holiday destination under an A$5 million ($4.7 million) three-year marketing deal.
The extra flight will boost SIA's seat capacity on the route by 24 per cent - over 2,100 seats per week or 110,500 seats a year.
The carrier currently operates 141 weekly flights from six Australian cities to Singapore.
The fifth daily flight will improve onward connections to key destinations like London, Zurich, Johannesburg and Osaka via Changi Airport, with travellers benefiting from a "significant reduction" in transit times.
Perth-bound travellers from Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Jakarta will also benefit from the additional daily connection from Singapore, the airline added.
Operated on the medium-haul Airbus A350-900 aircraft, the 303-seat flight features 40 seats in business class in a 1-2-1 configuration and 263 seats in economy class in a 3-3-3 layout.
It joins two other Airbus A350-900 and two Boeing 787-10 jets already operating on the Singapore to Perth route.
The new flight will boast the latest myKrisWorld inflight entertainment system by French multinational Thales, with a new user interface that offers a "more intuitive user experience" and navigation options.
Singapore Airlines' regional vice-president South West Pacific, Mr Philip Goh, said the addition of the fifth daily service to Perth reflected the airline's commitment to the West Australian market.
"Our investments in the Perth market reinforce the important role it plays in our global network, Mr Goh said of the route's 53-year history.
"We are thankful for the support of key partners such as Perth Airport and Tourism WA, with whom we share a strong and productive relationship over many years. We are excited by the opportunities this new fifth daily service will deliver and look forward to working closely with Tourism WA, Perth Airport and other key partners to make it a success."
In terms of visitor numbers and spending, Singapore is Western Australia's second largest international tourism market.
For the first three-quarters of 2019, Western Australia saw 107,600 visitors from Singapore, who spent A$269 million, its government said.
"We very much value the longstanding and productive relationship we have with Singapore Airlines, who is our largest global partner," Mr Paul Papalia, Western Australia's Minister for Tourism, said in a statement.
The expansion in passenger capacity comes at a time when the worldwide coronavirus outbreak has curbed travel and consumer demand.
Both SIA and SilkAir have announced cancellations of some flights between Singapore and cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Chengdu and Chongqing.
Affected customers will be notified and re-accommodated onto other flights, SIA said.
Low-cost carrier Scoot - owned by SIA - added it will be suspending all flights between Singapore and mainland China from Feb 8.