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Singapore Airlines returns to San Francisco with A350ULR flights

Singapore Airlines is adding three cities to its passenger network, including San Francisco, and increasing frequencies on other routes like Los Angeles and Sydney in the coming weeks, though two routes will also cease.

The news also marks the return to service of the Airbus A350 ULR variant.

Singapore Airlines will add three cities to its passenger network over the coming weeks, with confirmation that San Francisco, Shenzhen, and Nagoya are joining (or rejoining) the list, which will soon cover 37 cities worldwide out of a planned return to 62 after COVID-19.

At the same time, flight frequencies to Melbourne will be halved and the carrier with withdraw from both Surabaya and Taipei, while hiking frequencies on other routes including Los Angeles, Perth, Sydney and Jakarta.

In addition to the services that were announced earlier this month, SIA will reinstate flights to Nagoya and San Francisco between December 2020 and January 2021.

Singapore Airlines

Overall flight frequencies remain limited, however the group will now increase capacity to around 19% of pre-COVID levels by January 2021, rather than the 16% previously forecast.

Some frequency adjustments, including to Surabaya and Taipei, are flagged to be addressed by flights yet to be announced by low-cost division Scoot.

Shenzhen

Singapore Airlines hasn’t flown to Shenzhen, China since since it was pulled from the carrier’s network during the SARS outbreak in 2003/04, however SilkAir operated the route between October 2005 and mid-February 2020.

These weekly (Sunday) services have already started, with the first service operating at the weekend.

From 15th November 2020

  Days
M T W T F S S
SQ846
A359 R
SIN
07:25
SZX
11:20
SQ847
A359 R
           
SZX
14:20
SIN
18:05

Presumably the route’s reinstatement by SIA instead of SilkAir takes advantage of the superior underfloor cargo capacity on the airline’s Airbus A350s.

San Francisco

(Photo: Umer Sayyam)

Next month, Singapore Airlines will add a third city in the USA to its passenger network, with three times weekly flights to and from San Francisco, reconnecting the California city for the first time since March 2020.

Two-class Airbus A350 ULRs will serve the route, the first time these aircraft have been in service since March 2020.

SIA’s Airbus A350-900ULRs are fitted with 67 Business Class and 94 Premium Economy Class seats. (Photo Singapore Airlines)

That means only a Business Class and Premium Economy section will be available for sale, with Economy seats on US routes restricted to New York-JFK and Los Angeles services, which continue to use 3-class A350s.

From 15th December 2020

  Days
M T W T F S S
SQ34
A359 ULR
SIN
18:40
SFO
17:20
SQ33
A359 ULR
       
SFO
20:50
SIN
06:25(+2)

As with the airline’s other long-haul services, the aircraft and crew will rest together in San Francisco for around 51 hours before returning to Singapore.

Nagoya

Singapore Airlines will return to Nagoya with a three times weekly Boeing 787-10 service from early 2021.

From 2nd January 2021

  Days
M T W T F S S
SQ672
787-10
SIN
01:20
NGO
08:30
SQ671
787-10
       
NGO
10:20
SIN
16:15

Regular passenger service to and from the Japanese city ceased in March 2020, however the airline did return with a series of cargo-only flights in September 2020.

Lounges

In Singapore only the SilverKris Business Class lounge in Terminal 3 is operating, though the facility is also welcoming KrisFlyer Gold and Star Alliance Gold members during this period.

The SilverKris Business Class lounge is the only Singapore Airlines lounge currently open at Changi. (Photo: The Shutterwhale)

In San Francisco the United Club near gate F11 and the excellent United Polaris Lounge (see our review), unfortunately both remain closed at the time of writing. The Air France – KLM lounge is operating and accepts Priority Pass guests, but we doubt Singapore Airlines will grant complimentary access.

In Shenzhen eligible Singapore Airlines passengers are directed to the International Business Class VIP Lounge in Terminal 3, on Level 3 near Gate 9. This lounge is operating normally, with the exception of the shower facilities which are not currently available.

In Nagoya it’s the Star Alliance lounge usually welcoming eligible SIA passengers, however this lounge is temporarily closed with no other alternatives operating at the time of writing.

Route maps

Here are the latest route maps for Singapore Airlines passenger services over the next three months.

(click to enlarge)

Note: Surabaya and Taipei ending December 2020.

(click to enlarge)

Frequency changes

Singapore Airlines has also updated its schedules to many cities on its network with increased frequencies during December 2020 and January 2021, compared to previously announced timetables.

Los Angeles in particular gets two additional services, lifting it to five times weekly operation, while Perth lifts from three times per week to daily operation.

Perth will become a daily Singapore Airlines flight, following Scoot’s withdrawal from the route next month. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Three cities, however, see a significant or complete withdrawal of flights.

Melbourne, previously the most frequently served on the network with 13 weekly services planned in December 2020 and January 2020, will instead retain daily (7 times weekly) flights.

Edit: Scoot has confirmed it will lift its Melbourne flights to daily, sharing the route with SIA for a total of 14 weekly services at group level.

Instead, Sydney will become the most served city on the network, with 16 weekly flights, followed be Jakarta with twice daily services.

Sydney will be the first city on the SIA network to get regular twice daily flights, supplemented by another twice weekly service for 16 times weekly total passenger operation

Finally, Singapore Airlines will cease passenger services to and from Surabaya on 5th December 2020 and Taipei on 11th December 2020.

Edit: Scoot has confirmed it will lift its Surabaya and Taipei flights to daily, replacing SIA on these routes.

Singapore Airlines will be running the following passenger route network between November 2020 and January 2021, with these (previously unannounced) frequency changes highlighted.

SQtrans small

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

  Frequency increase
  Frequency reduction
  Frequency increase
  Frequency reduction
Singapore Airlines Routes
Short-haul & Asia

(Nov 2020 – Jan 2021)
City Month Acft
Nov Dec Jan
Bangkok 5/wk 7/wk 7/wk 787
Brunei 1/wk 3/wk 3/wk 738
Dhaka  2/wk
4/wk 4/wk 359R
Fukuoka 1/wk 1/wk 1/wk 787
Hanoi 3/wk 7/wk 7/wk 359R
Ho Chi Minh 3/wk 7/wk 7/wk 787
Hong Kong 10/wk 10/wk 10/wk 359
Jakarta 10/wk 14/wk 14/wk 359
Kuala Lumpur 3/wk 7/wk 7/wk 359
Manila 5/wk 7/wk 7/wk 359R
Nagoya 3/wk 787
Osaka 5/wk 7/wk 7/wk 359R
Seoul 6/wk 7/wk 7/wk 359R
787
Shanghai 1/wk 1/wk 1/wk 787
Shenzhen 1/wk 1/wk 1/wk 359R
Surabaya 2/wk 2/wk
(till 5 Dec)
773
77W
Taipei 3/wk 3/wk
(till 11 Dec)
787
Tokyo 5/wk 7/wk 7/wk 787
Total 66/wk
88/wk 93/wk  

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

There are no new short-haul routes during this period, with some minor frequency increases taking effect between November and December 2020.

Regional cities Jakarta and Hong Kong have the highest frequencies, however there is still no planned increase to and from the latter city despite an upcoming Air Travel Bubble arrangement.

Bangkok gets daily flights, while Seoul and Tokyo are also set to receive near-daily connections with six services each per week.

Singapore Airlines Routes
Australia & Long-haul

(Nov 2020 – Jan 2021)
City Month Acft
Nov Dec Jan
Adelaide 2/wk 3/wk 3/wk 359R
Amsterdam 5/wk 7/wk 7/wk 359
Auckland 5/wk 6/wk 6/wk 359
Barcelona 1/wk 1/wk 1/wk 359
Brisbane 4/wk 8/wk 8/wk 359
359R
Christchurch 3/wk 3/wk 3/wk 359
Copenhagen 2/wk 3/wk 3/wk 359
Frankfurt 5/wk 5/wk 5/wk 359
Istanbul 1/wk 1/wk 1/wk 359
Johannesburg 3/wk
3/wk 3/wk 359
London 12/wk 12/wk 12/wk 359
Los Angeles 3/wk 5/wk 5/wk 359
Melbourne 7/wk 7/wk 7/wk 359R
Milan 1/wk 1/wk 1/wk 359
New York JFK 3/wk
3/wk
3/wk 359
Paris 3/wk 3/wk 3/wk 359
Perth 3/wk 7/wk
(fm 5th)
7/wk 787
San Francisco 3/wk 3/wk 359ULR
Sydney 9/wk 16/wk 16/wk 359
787
Zurich 4/wk 4/wk 4/wk 359
Total 76/wk
98/wk 98/wk  

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

Scoot shuffle?

In its latest update, Singapore Airlines has highlighted that some of these frequency changes relate to a “route shuffle” with Scoot, with the low-cost carrier reducing or completely suspending some services as highlighted in our latest update.

Scoot’s services to Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Perth will be temporarily suspended, while SIA and SilkAir will increase their frequencies on those routes. At the same time, SIA and SilkAir will temporarily suspend services to Penang, Surabaya and Taipei while Scoot will operate to these destinations at higher frequencies.

Singapore Airlines
A “route shuffle” may be going on between Singapore Airlines and Scoot, though the latter has not yet updated its flight schedules at the time of writing. (Photo: Kwok Ho Eddie Wong)

This hints towards Scoot potentially taking up the slack on the Surabaya and Taipei routes, but does not mention how or if the carrier will address an almost halving of frequencies to and from Melbourne.

The adjustment of services between SIA, SilkAir and Scoot are the result of a detailed review to determine which airlines in the SIA Group portfolio are best suited to meet evolving customer and cargo demand.

Singapore Airlines

At the time of writing, Scoot has not yet made any substantial changes to its flight schedules since we last reported them.

Edit: Scoot has now published its revised schedules through to January 2021, including on the Taipei, Surabaya and Melbourne routes, to account for SIA’s frequency cuts.

Summary

Three new cities and additional frequency hikes on the SIA passenger network will see group capacity lifted to 19% of usual levels by January next year, an impressive total given the continued travel restrictions in place both in the region and globally.

Twice daily services to some points on the network from December, including Sydney and Jakarta, is also a very promising sign.

However, flights to Melbourne will be almost halved and both Surabaya and Taipei will cease, in a likely transfer of services to Scoot.

San Francisco stands out as the big news here, with three times weekly service on the 14+ hour flight (17+ hours in the return direction) another significant commitment to the US market following reintroduction of non-stop JFK flights earlier this month.

These flights will also signal the first reintroduction of the Airbus A350 ULR models in the fleet since the airline’s seven aircraft were withdrawn from service and stored in March 2020.

(Cover Photo: Singapore Airlines)

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