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Singapore Airlines returns to Cairns with VTL flights from 28 March

Singapore Airlines adds its sixth Australian destination, with flights between Changi and Cairns from late March, meaning more quarantine-free VTL options for travellers.

Singapore Airlines has announced that it is launching non-stop flights to and from Cairns next month, picking up another former SilkAir route, and marking the group’s third destination in Queensland with quarantine-free flights in both directions.

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The new services, which take up to 6 hours and 45 minutes, will be operated by SIA’s Boeing 737-800 aircraft. These were inherited during the SilkAir merger and offer a Business Class and Economy Class cabin.

Cairns becomes SIA’s sixth Aussie route

From 28th March 2022, the addition of Cairns to the network will mean Singapore Airlines is operating to six Australian cities.

Singapore Airlines has confirmed Cairns will officially become part of the SIA global passenger network from 28 March 2022, when SQ203 touches down at Cairns Airport at 17:25 local time.

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore Airlines’ regional wing, SilkAir, operated daily services to the Queensland holiday hotspot and gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. However, with the integration of SilkAir into Singapore Airlines in 2021, the route will become the sixth Australian destination in the Singapore Airlines global network.

Singapore Airlines
Cairns. (Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland)

This isn’t the first time Singapore Airlines has operated flights to and from Cairns.

It’s been a 25-year absence for SIA on route, with the city previously served by Airbus A310s in the late 1990s, but the group returned under the SilkAir brand in 2015 with a Singapore – Cairns – Darwin – Singapore triangular routing using Boeing 737-800s.

SilkAir last flew to Cairns in March 2020. (Photo: Anna Zvereva)

In May 2016 these later became dedicated non-stop flights to and from both cities, but they were forced to cease in March 2020 due to COVID-19.

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We also expect Singapore Airlines to restart its non-stop Darwin services, with a tentative three times weekly schedule loaded in the Global Distribution System (GDS) from 28th March, which remains un-bookable at the time of writing.

In the meantime, twice weekly flights from Singapore to Darwin are operated by Jetstar Asia.

Update 25 Feb: Singapore Airlines will indeed operate three times weekly to and from Darwin, starting on 29th March 2022. Services increase to five times weekly from 1st June 2022. All Darwin – Singapore flights will be designated VTL services.

The schedule

Singapore Airlines will launch Boeing 737-800 services to and from Cairns three times per week starting on 28th March 2022.

All SQ204 flights in the Cairns – Singapore direction will operate as designated VTL services.

28th March 2022 – 31st May 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
SQ203
737-800
SIN
08:45
CNS

17:25
SQ204
737-800

VTL
CNS
18:15
SIN

23:00

Note: A one-time SQ204 service will operate on Tuesday 29th March 2022, instead of Monday 28th March 2022.

From June through to the end of the published schedule in late October 2022 service will be expanded to five times weekly.

1st June 2022 – 29th October 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
SQ203
737-800
SIN
08:45
CNS

17:25
SQ204
737-800

VTL
CNS
18:15
SIN

23:00

Will the MAX join the route?

These long flights to and from Cairns are better suited to SIA’s Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft, which are now in service or being introduced on a variety of routes, including to Male in the Maldives.

We would expect the Cairns service to also see this new aircraft type taking over from the Boeing 737-800 in due course, which will be great news for all passengers due to the long-haul-style cabin products in both Business Class and Economy.

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Here are our dedicated articles covering both of the new cabins on the MAX, which we’ll hopefully see coming to the Cairns route before long.

In the meantime passengers in Business Class can anticipate the older SilkAir recliner seats.

SIA Boeing 737-800 Business Class. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

In Economy Class it’s a rather basic seat on the 737-800 with no in-built IFE system, though you can stream content to your personal device from an on-board server.

SIA Boeing 737-800 Economy Class. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

Unlike on the MAX, there is no Wi-Fi connectivity available on the Boeing 737-800s in either cabin.

Redemption rates

Here are the redemption rates you’ll pay when flying on an SIA flight between Singapore and Cairns.

KrisFlyer Redemption Rates
Cairns to/from Singapore
  Saver
(one way)
Advantage
(one way)
Economy 28,000
55,000
Business 62,000
90,000

Brisbane and Gold Coast

The news of SIA’s upcoming Cairns flights comes as Scoot recently restarted non-stop Singapore – Gold Coast flights, with VTL approval on the trip back to Singapore. Click the schedule below to see the VTL services.

27th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
TR7
787-8
OOL
08:50
SIN

15:20

Important

From 1st April 2022, there will be no more designated VTL flights to Singapore.
All fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free on any flight operated by any airline on any route.

Singapore Airlines, meanwhile, is offering up to 21 Brisbane flights each week, all returning to Singapore under the VTL, including Airbus A350 Regional and Long-Haul configurations for a choice of cabin products (click to expand).

27th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= SQ256
A350 Regional
BNE
09:20
SIN

15:30
QF51
A330
       
BNE
10:20
SIN

16:35
 bgcolor= SQ236
A350 Regional
BNE
14:45
SIN

20:45
 bgcolor= SQ246
A350 Long Haul
BNE
23:50
SIN

05:45*

* Next day

Important

From 1st April 2022, there will be no more designated VTL flights to Singapore.
All fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free on any flight operated by any airline on any route.

In total there will be 27 weekly SIA Group services between Singapore and Queensland from late March 2022, all of which offer quarantine-free travel in both directions.

From Cairns to Gold Coast (pictured), there will soon be multiple direct quarantine-free travel options across Queensland for Singapore residents. (Photo: City of Gold Coast)

Requirements when flying to Queensland

Fully vaccinated eligible travellers (including Singapore Citizens) flying from overseas to Queensland must:

  • Have a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within three days of their flight departure time, or a professionally administered negative COVID-19 RAT (ART) test taken within 24 hours of their departure time, unless they are under five years of age.
  • Complete the Digital Passenger Declaration within 72 hours of departure.
  • Take a self-administered RAT (ART) test within 24 hours of arriving in Queensland. The test kit used must be one on the Australian TGA’s approved list.
  • Self-isolate at home or in other suitable accommodation until receiving a negative test result.

Aside from the short self-isolation period (RAT tests only take 15-30 minutes), no quarantine applies.

Taking the post-arrival RAT test in Queensland is based on a ‘honour system’, and will not be policed. Those who test positive, however, should follow these steps.

Travellers returning to Singapore on the VTL will follow the latest standard process, which requires an ART test within two days of departure and a S$15 supervised ART test within 24 hours of arrival.



 


 

Summary

It’s been a long time since Singapore Airlines flew to Cairns with its own branding, but this anticipated route switch from SilkAir gives the carrier its sixth Aussie destination, and we expect Darwin to be the seventh in due course.

Cairns is a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. (Photo: Jodi Nelson)

While it starts out as a three times weekly link, there will be five weekly flights on this route by June 2022, and all SQ204 services returning to Singapore have VTL approval for a quarantine-free arrival.

It’s great to see more and more destinations like this coming back now that Australia has fully opened its borders, with SIA Group passengers having 27 non-stop Queensland services to choose from by the end of next month.

(Cover Photo: Plane’s Portrait Aviation Media / Malcolm Lu)

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5 comments

  1. I presume they are on the older -800s due to lack of Max aircraft? Seems that SQ is quite a fan of the Maxes as they seem to be deployed even on the shortest flights to KL/Phuket and Brunei and the -800s are hardly deployed anywhere now.