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Singapore Airlines increases Auckland flights from August

Singapore Airlines has added a third more flights than first proposed to its Auckland route in August and September 2020

Auckland 2 (SS)

Last month we reported how Singapore Airlines made a last-minute increase to its Auckland flights for July 2020, in between its usual regular monthly schedule updates. This month it’s the same story, with the airline announcing a 33% increase in planned flights to New Zealand’s economic hub from 9th August 2020.

A fourth weekly Airbus A350 service will fly to the ‘City of Sails’ every Sunday, returning to Singapore each Tuesday, in addition to the originally planned Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday departures from Singapore.

This will effectively convert one of the airline’s routine cargo-only flights on the route to also carry passengers from next weekend, suggesting that enhanced transit flight permissions for SIA Group services through Changi Airport are sustaining some good demand between Singapore and Auckland.

The schedule

Singapore Airlines is currently serving Auckland three times per week, having increased from twice weekly in late June 2020. That was another relatively last-minute addition (taking effect just a week later), so these changes may be based on regulatory approvals coming through at short notice.

Currently a daytime SQ281 service operates on Wednesdays and Fridays, then returns during the day on Thursdays and Saturdays as SQ286, while an overnight SQ285 service on Tuesdays (Mondays from August) returns overnight on Wednesdays as SQ282.

This pattern was re-stated as part of the airline’s original expanded schedule for August and September 2020 published last week.

SQtrans small

Singapore ⇄ Auckland
(Jul 2020)
Days Acft
M T W T F S S
SIN ➔ AKL
SQ281
  359
AKL ➔ SIN
SQ282
359
SIN ➔ AKL
SQ285
359
AKL ➔ SIN
SQ286
359

From 9th August 2020 an additional SQ285/286 flight pairing has now been added. This service will operate on Sundays from Singapore to Auckland as SQ285 and return as SQ286 on Tuesdays, with the same crew on both flights spending a 30-hour rest period in Auckland while the aircraft also rests on the ground there.

Singapore ⇄ Auckland
(Aug / Sep 2020)
Days Acft
M T W T F S S
SIN ➔ AKL
SQ281
359
AKL ➔ SIN
SQ282
359
SIN ➔ AKL
SQ285
359
AKL ➔ SIN
SQ286
359
New services or increased frequencies are highlighted in yellow

As with all current Auckland passenger operations, a 253-seat 3-class Airbus A350 will be used on these flights.

These aircraft include 42 of the airline’s popular 2013 Business Class seats.

2013 J A350 (MM)
Singapore Airlines Airbus A350 long-haul Business Class. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Last month Singapore Airlines outlined how the travel experience both on the ground and in the air has changed as it carefully increases services to specific cities, in view of the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

Many domestic flights within New Zealand are flying, with Star Alliance carrier Air New Zealand and Jetstar already operating a wide range of services.

That means for Kiwis returning home it should be fairly straightforward to travel domestically after arriving in the country on one of these Singapore – Auckland services. The same applies for those wishing to return to their home countries from New Zealand via Auckland and Changi.

Where else is Singapore Airlines flying?

Singapore Airlines is serving 18 routes in Asia-Pacific, 8 routes in Europe and to a single city in the USA, as part of its lates schedule for August and September 2020.

Frequencies have also been increased between Changi and both Hong Kong and Seoul.

SQ Routemap Sep APAC
(click to enlarge)
SQ Routemap Sep EURUS
(click to enlarge)

For full details of SIA’s current flight schedules, see our article from last week.

Currently two routes are being served daily (Kuala Lumpur and London). In addition to these four times weekly Auckland flights, the airline is also serving Christchurch in New Zealand once per week.

Auckland has the second-highest number of weekly Singapore Airlines flights in the South West Pacific region, after Sydney.

SilkAir and Scoot routes

SIA’s network is complemented by the following routes to and from Changi operated by subsidiary airlines:

SilkAir Silk Bird Green

  • Cebu
  • Chongqing
  • Kuala Lumpur (SQ/TR also operating)
  • Medan
  • Phnom Penh

Scoot TZtrans

  • Clark
  • Guangzhou
  • Hong Kong (SQ also operating)
  • Ipoh
  • Kuala Lumpur (MI/SQ also operating)
  • Kuching
  • Nanjing
  • Penang
  • Perth
  • Seoul (via Taipei)
  • Surabaya
  • Taipei

See our full analysis of Scoot’s latest schedules here.

Transit flight approvals

Passengers can now transit from a total of over 20 cities on the Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Scoot networks to any destination currently being served by the group, apart from cities in mainland China.

Transit Pax (Changi Airport)
The first SIA transit passengers passed through Changi under the new rules on the weekend of 13th/14th June. (Photo: Changi Airport)

Return routings are also possible, provided your origin and destination city are both on the list of approved transit points, otherwise it’s still one-way only from an approved city to a non-approved one.

Currently no other airlines at Changi have transit passenger approval, so you must be flying on an SIA Group carrier for both sectors to take advantage, even to or from an approved city.

The transit experience

‘Not as you once knew it’ is the best summary here. If you’re on a connecting flight itinerary through Changi at the moment you’ll have to follow a relatively strict and secluded experience.

Essentially it involves:

  • Being provided with a wristband to identify you as a transit passenger.
  • Being escorted to a specific transit holding area, with no opportunity to visit any shops, restaurants or lounges.
  • Being escorted back to your departure gate around 75 minutes before the departure of your onward flight.

Passengers must remain within the transit holding area for the duration of their connection, though they can order food and drinks to be delivered through an app, and those with PPS Club status or flying in First or Business Class have their own dedicated area with complimentary food and drinks.

See our article for a full rundown on the new transit experience.

Another option available for those with longer connections is a room at the Aerotel Transit Hotel in Terminal 1, though in that case you’ll again have to be escorted to and from the hotel itself and won’t be free to leave your room during your booked time there.

For full updated information on the transit process through Changi Airport, see the airline’s dedicated page here.

Summary

Demand for passenger flights to Auckland isn’t likely to be ‘through the roof’ at the moment, in common with other cities globally due to the strict border restrictions.

There must be some demand however to warrant an increase initially from two to three services per week and now a month later from three to four flights.

The last-minute nature of both these recent frequency changes to and from the city may suggest some regulatory delay in the background, as opposed to some last-minute reactionary changes from SIA.

Whatever the reason it’s good to see frequencies increasing and this will assist those transiting to or from New Zealand through Changi to or from wider points on the network, including Europe and North Asia.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

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