Singapore Airlines’ low-cost subsidiary Scoot has announced that it will be introducing regional jets into its fleet from 2024, with a Letter of Intent (LOI) signed with commercial aircraft lessor Azorra for a total of nine new aircraft, all of which will be in service by 2025.
This will make Scoot the first operator of the Embraer family of aircraft in Singapore, and indeed for the E190 across South East Asia, with the E190-E2 being one of the Brazilian manufacturer’s latest jets, designed for short and medium-haul flights.
In a press release, the airline says “The order signals Scoot’s confidence in the growing demand for air travel in Asia and commitment to bolster the SIA Group’s network”.
Currently Scoot’s 60-strong fleet comprises the Airbus A320 family and Boeing 787 family of aircraft, with between 180 and 375 seats, but these new regional jets will accommodate only 112 passengers, ideal for what the airline calls “thinner routes to non-metro destinations”.
Scoot’s shorter non-metro routes like Kuantan, Palembang and Pekanbaru will surely be contenders for these fuel-efficient jets.
Excitingly, the news could also signal an expansion of service to smaller airports in the region, including a possible return for the SIA Group to Koh Samui.
Scoot has secured operating leases on nine brand new E190-E2s via lessor Azzora, via an LOI which is of course subject to later final contractural confirmation.
The Florida-based lessor ordered 20 E190-E2s over a year ago, in January 2022 – a deal worth US$3.9 billion at list prices – and also has options on 30 additional aircraft.
The Scoot E190-E2 will accommodate 112 passengers in a 2-2 layout, ideal for couples.
Interestingly, the E190-E2 has a design limit of 114 passengers with 29-inch seat pitch, so Scoot is actually losing two seats from the potential maximum, though this could be based on the required galley configuration needed by the airline to heat up your pre-booked Chicken Fried Rice!
Having flown on an E190-E1 (first generation) a couple of times in Europe, I can assure you the overhead locker space is no match for an A320 or 787, but otherwise it’s a perfectly pleasant jet experience, and the 2-2 seating is a plus whether you’re travelling as a couple or solo.
The E190-E2 has a range of 2,850 nautical miles, providing Scoot options across the immediate region but also as far as northern Australia, the entire Indonesian Archipelago, the Philippines, China and India, all within around 6 hours flying time from Singapore.
Engines are provided by Canada’s Pratt & Whitney, in the form of the PW1900 geared turbofan, which also powers Scoot’s Airbus A320neo family, likely providing some training and spare parts commonality for the carrier.
Koh Samui is a potential route
The SIA Group has been struggling for a solution to its withdrawal from the lucrative Singapore – Koh Samui route since it stopped operating aircraft small enough to be permitted to operate there, with the largest allowed being the Airbus A319.
SilkAir retired these aircraft during the pandemic, leaving SIA with no compatible types to use to and from the airport, which is privately owned by Bangkok Airways.
The E190-E2 falls well within Koh Samui’s operating restrictions (in fact it’s far smaller than the upper aircraft size limit imposed), making it an ideal solution to plug at least this gap in the Group’s network.
Clearly nine aircraft aren’t required to fly purely between Singapore and Koh Samui, but the destination must surely be on the cards for the airline among several other regional ports, given that there’s no current option for connectivity to and from Europe and Australia in particular with Group carriers.
Koh Samui is popular with those holidaying from these regions, and currently the only codeshare options via Singapore are available on Bangkok Airways flights with the likes of Qantas, British Airways and Air France.
SIA would surely be thrilled to tap this lucrative market again.
Even Singapore residents love Koh Samui, but they face high pricing on direct flights that are 70% reliant on transit traffic. A Scoot service could help alleviate that issue (though it will probably never be ‘cheap’ – it doesn’t need to be with SIA feeder traffic!).
Sadly Scoot won’t offer a good KrisFlyer redemption option if it starts this route, like SilkAir used to.
Awards on the low-cost carrier are currently revenue-based, and terrible value, but hopefully fares can at least be lower, and additional timing options compared to Bangkok Airways might be another useful element in the mix.
Scoot will be introducing nine Embraer E190-E2 aircraft into its fleet in 2024 and 2025, to serve thinner markets in the region, but also with the capability to fly for over six hours non-stop if needed.
It’s an interesting third mix in the fleet development of the carrier, which currently uses the Airbus A320 family and Boeing 787 family to meet its capacity and range needs.
For many of our readers, the most exciting prospect here is a potential return for the SIA Group to the Koh Samui route, to give Bangkok Airways some competition and hopefully drive down fares to and from this popular destination, while providing an additional transit option through Changi for those from further afield.
(Cover Image: Scoot)