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SIA and SilkAir plan 42 routes in December 2020, including the Maldives

Five new routes join the SIA and SilkAir network in the last three months of 2020.

Is it too early to hope for a leisure travel 'green lane' to the Maldives?
Latest update: New York JFK flights have been added as the 35th SIA destination from 9th November 2020. These are now reflected in the schedules below.

Singapore Airlines and SilkAir have extended their published passenger flight schedules until the end of 2020, with one of the most significant ramp-ups we’ve seem lately adding five routes and increasing frequencies on many existing services, including daily flights to Amsterdam and 10 flights per week to key metro cities like Jakarta and Hong Kong.

This extends the confirmed timetable through to 31st December 2020, sealing a year the national carrier would likely rather forget.

Melbourne is set to become the airline’s busiest route, with 13 weekly connections, ahead of London and Sydney each receiving 12 flights per week.

Overall, schedules will lift to around 15% of usual levels by December 2020.

  Headline figures

In total SIA and SilkAir will fly 1,530 passenger flights during December 2020, a significant 70% increase on the 902 services being operated during October 2020.

“By the end of December 2020, the Group’s passenger capacity will reach approximately 15% of its pre-Covid-19 levels.”

Singapore Airlines, 2 October 2020

New routes

Singapore Airlines will add three routes in the coming months:

  • Brunei (from 1 Nov)
  • Dhaka (from 20 Oct)
  • Fukuoka (from 5 Nov)

SilkAir meanwhile will add two routes:

  • Kathmandu (from 10 Oct)
  • Malé (from 1 Dec)

SilkAir will also restart its Penang flights from 25th October, which we already announced last month. The regional carrier will also operate services to and from Brunei on behalf of Singapore Airlines under its longstanding wet-lease arrangement, using Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

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The Maldives allows tourism

The most interesting addition to the schedule is Malé in the Maldives, set to be served twice weekly by SilkAir using the Boeing 737-800 from December.

The Maldives has begun welcoming tourists again with its visa on arrival programme, subject to obtaining a medical certificate with a negative COVID-19 PCR test result conducted no more than 72 hours before departure.

There is no mandatory quarantine, passengers must be simply travelling as tourists and have a hotel stay booked for the duration of their visit. Details are available here.

Unfortunately for Singapore residents things aren’t so simple. Currently you can only get a voluntary pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test if you’re travelling on one of the fast lane / green lane arrangements, plus there are the thorny issues of:

  • Travelling against government advice (outside green lane arrangements, the Singapore Government still advises against all overseas travel).
  • Obtaining travel insurance that will cover you for COVID-19 during your trip.
  • 14-days SHN in a dedicated facility at your own expense on return to Singapore (> S$2,000).
  • Liability to pay unsubsidised costs for treatment on return to Singapore in the event that you contracted COVID-19 as a result of your trip.

With these restrictions in place, it’s hard to see how SilkAir has a chance of filling many (if any) of its 324 seats per week in each direction on this route, so what’s going on?

There are no Singaporeans stranded in the Maldives (to our knowledge), and even if there were they could get home via the Middle East without much difficulty.

The Maldives in December sounds great to us, but how will that be possible? (Photo: Ibrahim Mohamed)

One market the airline can tap into is transit passengers. Malé is an approved origin point for transit passengers (SIA hasn’t updated its list to reflect that yet, but it should appear next week).

That means connecting passengers, for example from New Zealand, can take a holiday in the Maldives and book with Singapore Airlines / SilkAir, then return again the same way via Changi, giving the route a small amount of custom.

It’s hard to believe this sort of routing would stimulate much demand. Like Singapore residents, New Zealanders are also advised against overseas travel, plus they would have to quarantine for 14 days on their return home.

That leads us to optimistically hope that some other plan is in the works for a potential leisure green lane between Singapore and the Maldives (it was recently proposed as a relatively straightforward arrangement), otherwise we really can’t see this route actually going ahead.

That begs the question – why even load the route? Unless they know something we don’t!

Keep your fingers crossed, and watch this space.

Singapore Airlines Schedule

Here’s a map of the 23 Asia-Pacific destinations being served by Singapore Airlines by December 2020, including the newly announced Brunei, Dhaka and Fukuoka reinstatements.

(click to enlarge)

In addition, a two US destinations, nine European cities, Istanbul in Turkey and Johannesburg in South Africa will be served.

(click to enlarge)

Overall the airline will increase to 1,380 monthly passenger flights by December 2020, around 16.8% of its 8,200 monthly services flown in December 2019.

Singapore Airlines will be running the following passenger route network between October and December 2020.

SQtrans small

All routes not listed below are cancelled during this period, or will have cargo-only operation.

  Newly added
  Newly added
Singapore Airlines Routes
Short-haul & Asia

(Oct – Dec 2020)
City Month Acft
Oct Nov Dec
Bangkok 3/wk 5/wk 7/wk 787
Brunei 1/wk 1/wk 738
Dhaka  2/wk
(fm 20th)
2/wk 4/wk 359R
Fukuoka 1/wk 1/wk 787
Hanoi 1/wk 3/wk 3/wk 359R
Ho Chi Minh 2/wk 3/wk 3/wk 787
Hong Kong 6/wk 10/wk 10/wk 359R
787
Jakarta 7/wk 10/wk 10/wk 359
Kuala Lumpur 3/wk 3/wk 3/wk 359
Manila 2/wk 5/wk 5/wk 359R
Osaka 2/wk 5/wk 5/wk 359R
Seoul 5/wk 6/wk 6/wk 359R
787
Shanghai 1/wk 1/wk 1/wk 787
Surabaya 2/wk 2/wk 2/wk 773
77W
Taipei 3/wk 3/wk 3/wk 787
Tokyo 3/wk 5/wk 6/wk 787
Total 42/wk
65/wk 70/wk  

The latest updated schedules including days of operation is available at this dedicated page on the Singapore Airlines website.

As you can see in addition to three new routes joining the passenger network there are significant frequency increases, with daily Bangkok flights and 10 times weekly services to Hong Kong and Jakarta, key metro cities in the region.

Seoul and Tokyo are also set to receive near-daily connections with six services per week.

Boeing 777-300s (and later from November Boeing 777-300ERs) are back in passenger service on the Surabaya route, though the First Class cabins are not being sold on these flights.

Singapore Airlines Routes
Australia & Long-haul

(Oct – Dec 2020)
City Month Acft
Oct Nov Dec
Adelaide 1/wk 2/wk 2/wk 359R
Amsterdam 3/wk 5/wk 7/wk 359
Auckland 4/wk 5/wk 6/wk 359
Barcelona 1/wk 1/wk 1/wk 359
Brisbane 2/wk 4/wk 6/wk 359
359R
Christchurch 3/wk 3/wk 3/wk 359
Copenhagen 1/wk 2/wk 2/wk 359
Frankfurt 5/wk 5/wk 5/wk 359
Istanbul 1/wk 1/wk 1/wk 359
Johannesburg 1/wk
(fm 14th)
3/wk 3/wk 359
London 12/wk 12/wk 12/wk 359
Los Angeles 3/wk 3/wk 3/wk 359
Melbourne 3/wk 7/wk 13/wk 359R
Milan 1/wk 1/wk 1/wk 359
New York JFK 3/wk
(fm 9th)
3/wk 359
Paris 3/wk 3/wk 3/wk 359
Perth 3/wk 3/wk 3/wk 787
Sydney 5/wk 9/wk 12/wk 359
Zurich 3/wk 4/wk 4/wk 359
Total 55/wk
76/wk 90/wk  

The latest updated schedules including days of operation is available at this dedicated page on the Singapore Airlines website.

No new long-haul routes outside Asia will be restarting over the next three months (edit: New York JFK has now been announced), though again we can see some significant frequency increases, including plans to serve Melbourne and Sydney 12 times per week or more (almost twice daily).

Amsterdam will also become the second European route to pick up a daily passenger connection by December, only surpassed by London (12 times weekly).

(click to enlarge)

Overall weekly passenger flight frequencies across all Singapore Airlines services are as follows:

  • Oct 2020: 97 per week
  • Nov 2020: 138 per week
  • Dec 2020: 157 per week

That’s a significant ramp-up with over 60% more flights in December compared to October, mostly due to the significant increase in frequencies outlined above.

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SilkAir Schedule

SilkAir is expanding its network to eight cities by December 2020, with the addition of Kathmandu in October and Malé in December, in addition to the Penang route in October we already mentioned.

(click to enlarge)

Overall the airline will increase to 150 monthly passenger flights by December 2020, around 4.3% of its 3,500 monthly services flo