In another move by the SIA Group to tap into markets already open to leisure travellers without quarantine requirements, low-cost carrier Scoot has announced that it will be extending its existing three times weekly Singapore – Athens service to Berlin from August 2021.
With “fifth freedom” traffic rights, this will allow the airline to not only benefit from some limited demand between Singapore and Berlin, including for transit passengers through Changi, but also intra-Europe traffic flying between Greece and Germany this summer.
It will be the first time the airline has operated a “fifth freedom” service within Europe.
“Linking Berlin and Singapore via Athens allows Scoot to tap on summer holiday demand between Germany and Greece, given that intra-Europe border measures have eased, and more efficiently supports travel demand from Europe to Singapore and Scoot’s broader Asia Pacific network, so that we can resume our network in a calibrated manner.”Scoot
Scoot first launched non-stop flights between Singapore and Berlin’s Tegel Airport in June 2018, however the route was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the last service operating on 18th March 2020.
Here’s how the schedule for Scoot’s Berlin flights looks, as an extension to the Athens route.
Scoot Singapore – Athens – Berlin
(from 10th August 2021)
* Next day
Note that the Singapore – Athens – Singapore timings have been modified to accommodate the additional Berlin service. Flight numbers have also been changed.
The new service and timings are available for booking until 30th October 2021 at this stage.
Unlike the last time Scoot flew to Berlin, this reinstated service will operate to and from the city’s new Brandenburg Airport, finally open nine years later then originally than planned!
Both Athens and Berlin are approved origin and destination cities for transit passengers through Changi Airport to and from SIA Group services.
Cash fares for the three-hour flight between Athens and Berlin are quite competitive.
With Aegean Airlines being the only other operator on the route, prices in Economy Class have mostly been set to match those of the full-service airline, though on some days Scoot is cheaper while on others it’s more expensive.
|ATH → BER
|BER → ATH
ScootPlus is also good value on this route, with fares undercutting Aegean’s Business Class and on Saturdays coming in at half the price of Aegean.
Service and F&B aside, Aegean’s Business Class on its Airbus A320neo aircraft flying between Athens and Berlin is simply the typical ‘Eurobusiness’ blocked middle seat in the first few rows of the cabin.
ScootPlus, on the other hand, is more akin to a long-haul Premium Economy product, with wider seats, more legroom and a 2-3-2 configuration.
Aegean will certainly wine and dine you better than Scoot will on this intra-Europe route, and allow lounge access, but if it’s just a comfy seat you’re after for a competitive fare you may be better choosing ScootPlus on the low-cost carrier.
For those interested in flying to Berlin all the way from Singapore, Scoot has one-way fares on the route from S$323 for Economy FlyBagEat and S$702 for ScootPlus. Do bear in mind the total journey time, including a 2-hour transit in Athens, is almost 17 hours!
Singapore border relaxations
Earlier this month Singapore’s Health Minister Ong Ye Kung identified “most EU countries and the USA” as prime candidates for quarantine relaxation by Singapore for travellers, once the country moves into its ‘endemic COVID’ strategy later this year, as vaccination levels increase as high as 80%.
That could mean countries with low case totals and similarly high vaccination rates, like Germany and Italy, on the zero-quarantine list (when returning to Singapore) towards the end of 2021.
Unfortunately a recent spike of COVID-19 cases in Greece makes it look an unlikely early candidate for relaxation.
As of 14th July 2021
|Country||Population Vaccinated||New COVID-19 cases*|
If Germany makes it onto the list but Greece does not, it will be interesting to see whether Scoot reinstates non-stop Berlin flights to take advantage, since merely transiting in a higher-risk country is likely to invalidate your quarantine-free status on return to Singapore.
The rest of Scoot’s network
Here’s how Berlin looks alongside the rest of the Scoot network in July and August 2021, once it becomes the 25th city served by the airline since COVID-19.
Recently we also reported on Scoot’s introduction of the larger Airbus A321neo (32Q) aircraft into its fleet.
Flight frequencies and aircraft types planned are as shown in the following table.
= Newly added
|Ho Chi Minh*||7/wk||7/wk||32N|
* Singapore to Ho Chi Minh flights are not currently able to carry passengers due to government restrictions, but will do so on their return flights to Singapore.
The full Scoot passenger flight schedule for July and August 2021, which is subject to occasional updates, is available here.
These services will complement 53 passenger destinations being served by Singapore Airlines during July and August 2021, with a full breakdown of those routes and aircraft types available here.
“Fifth freedom” services, largely shunned in recent years as newer generation long-haul aircraft have been able to operate more efficiently from point-to-point, are set to be an important part of the pandemic recovery for many airlines.
We’ve already seen Singapore Airlines extend its Copenhagen service to Rome, with traffic rights for passengers flying between Denmark and Italy, and the airline’s imminent reinstatement of Manchester flights allows perfect timing for the former Houston extension, to take advantage of a potential UK-US travel corridor later in the year.
With European residents now mostly able to travel within the continent by showing vaccinated status or a negative COVID-19 test, Scoot has been able to restart its Singapore – Berlin service earlier than expected since it will also be supported by this intra-Europe traffic.
As the SIA Group spots pockets of opportunity with travel gradually opening up, we can expect to see more new (or resurrected) “fifth freedom” services like this one in the months ahead.
(Cover Photo: Boeing)