International travel may not quite be back on the cards for Singapore residents, even those fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but that’s not stopping SIA’s low-cost subsidiary Scoot from restarting its non-stop Boeing 787 service to Athens next month.
It’s an unexpected move from the carrier, which has played it relatively safe during the pandemic thus far, with shorter intra-region flights plus some services to Japan, South Korea and Australia.
From 20th May 2021, Scoot will link Singapore to the Greek capital three times per week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, via an 11 hour 40 minute non-stop flight.
The route was last flown over a year ago, on 21st March 2021, but was then suspended due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
* Next day
Athens is an approved origin and destination city for transit passengers through Changi Airport to and from SIA Group services.
Scoot first started its Singapore – Athens route in June 2017, a city pair that had previously been served on a seasonal basis by SIA until 2015.
Greece is reopening for tourism
Scoot’s return to Athens ties in nicely with Greece’s comprehensive reopening plan for tourism from 14th May 2021.
From that date, Greece will permit fully vaccinated visitors from across the world, or those who can produce a negative COVID-19 test.
While Singapore has not relaxed its entry requirements from Greece at this stage, even for fully vaccinated travellers, the reopening may be of interest to those who:
- are transiting to or from another SIA Group city through Changi; or
- are willing to undergo (and pay for) a 14-day mandatory Stay Home Notice (SHN) period in a designated hotel on return to Singapore (you can now choose your own, if you pay extra for a suite).
Initially though, these restrictions will inevitably mean low passenger loads to begin with on this route.
Other reinstated routes
The news comes after we recently reported on Scoot’s initial update to its May 2021 schedules, with the following new cities added to the network:
- Cebu (from 2nd May)
- Clark (from 1st May)
- Kota Kinabalu (from 8th May)
- Kuala Lumpur (from 1st May)
As part of this latest update, services to and from Manado have also been added from 28th May 2021, with Bangkok seeing four additional weekly services from mid-May.
Here’s how Scoot’s updated weekly passenger flights look by route, including frequencies and aircraft types planned.
= Newly added
11/wk (fm 17/5)
|Ho Chi Minh*||7/wk||7/wk||32N|
|Macau*||1/wk (fm 24/4)||1/wk||320
6/wk (fm 24/5)
|Taipei / Seoul||1/wk||1/wk||788|
|Taipei / Tokyo||2/wk||2/wk||788|
* Singapore to Ho Chi Minh and Singapore to Macau flights are not currently able to carry passengers due to government restrictions, but will do so on their return flights to Singapore.
Although it looked as though Scoot’s Kuching route was being dropped after 18th April, in fact it just skipped a week for some reason (with no service on 24th April). Normal weekly operation restarts on 2nd May.
The full Scoot passenger flight schedule for April and May 2021, which is subject to occasional updates, is available here.
These services will complement 50 passenger destinations being served by Singapore Airlines and SilkAir during May and June 2021, with a full breakdown of those routes and aircraft types available here.
No Hong Kong ATB flights for Scoot yet
Scoot is currently banned from operating passenger flights into Hong Kong until 29th April, after importing two COVID-19 cases, in combination with a passenger having incorrect documentation on the same flight, a similar reason SIA had to serve a ban earlier this month.
Current Scoot services are therefore only carrying cargo on their Singapore – Hong Kong flights and then bringing passengers on their return to Singapore. The airline will restart carrying passengers to Hong Kong from Friday 30th April.
Yesterday we got the news that the Singapore – Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble is (finally) launching on 26th May 2021, however do note that Scoot is not participating in the designated ATB flights at this stage. Only specific Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific flights are eligible at the moment.
If the ATB goes well, more carriers (including Scoot) may be added to the arrangement.
Scoot passengers can continue to connect at Changi Airport onto other SIA Group services, with those originating in Australia, Taiwan and China no longer restricted to the transit holding area and instead free to roam the shops, restaurants and lounges as usual between flights.
Further details are available here.
In late November last year Scoot launched ScootHub, its new system allowing at-seat ordering of food, drinks and duty free items through your own personal mobile device.
The system also supports games, an in-flight map and some other features, but crucially has allowed the airline to gain approval to serve F&B items again with reduced crew interaction in view of COVID-19.
Scoot also reintroduced its ScootPlus (formerly ScootBiz) cabin on Boeing 787 flights earlier in 2020, probably of particular interest to those planning to take its longest non-stop flight to or from Athens in the near future.
Date change flexibility
Scoot’s travel waiver, for flights booked on or before 15th March 2020 covering travel dates through 31st March 2021, has now expired, though you can still apply for a voucher or refund if your booking was eligible and affected.
For new Scoot bookings made between 10th March 2020 and 30th June 2021 (both dates inclusive), Scoot is offering a free one-time date change for your flights.
Do be aware, however, that if the fare for the new flight is higher than the fare already paid, the fare difference will be chargeable. If the fare for the new flight is lower, there will be no refund.
Full details of the latest ‘Fly with Confidence’ policy are available here.
The Scoot fleet
A total of 22 aircraft in Scoot’s 50-strong fleet are operating revenue flights, based on activity noted over the last 14 days from 13th – 26th April 2021.
Six aircraft are stored in Alice Springs (three Boeing 787-8s and three Airbus A320s), while the remaining 22 aircraft are stored at Changi.
Here’s a breakdown of which Scoot aircraft are in recent service.
Stored aircraft still include both of the airline’s A320 cargo conversions, which have been parked at Changi since early September 2020.
More increases in store for the Scoot network in May, with six new routes coming back online including a return to Europe with Athens reinstated just in time for Greece’s tourism reopening.
Unfortunately with SHN restrictions still enforced for Singapore residents, these flights aren’t likely to appeal to too many travellers until some relaxation potentially happens on that front in the months to come.
Overall Scoot will operate over 160 weekly flights by the end of May 2021, most of which are carrying passengers, around 14% of the 1,100+ weekly flights it was operating in May 2019.
While the airline has not been included in the upcoming Singapore – Hong Kong travel bubble at this stage, provided the arrangement gets up and running successfully then its flights could be added in future.
Hopefully with expanded vaccine rollouts and potential travel bubbles emerging there will be more increases to come, especially in the second half of 2021.
(Cover Photo: Scoot)