Singapore Airlines’ flights to both Canberra and Wellington will not return even as international travel restrictions ease, with the carrier making a departure from both national capitals.
The withdrawal also marks the end of Singapore Airlines’ trans-Tasman flying, as Wellington was linked with Singapore via Melbourne.
“This decision is an extremely difficult one considering the hard work put in with our partners over the past few years to build both destinations into successful operations,” Singapore Airlines’ Regional Vice President for South West Pacific, Philip Goh, tells Executive Traveller.
“But, it is necessary as we foresee travel demand to remain stunted for a long period of time. Australia and New Zealand remain key markets for the SIA group and we remain firmly committed to ensuring both countries remain connected through our Singapore Hub.”
The carrier’s Canberra route operated as a Singapore-Sydney-Canberra-Singapore ‘triangle’, with Wellington served by Singapore-Melbourne-Wellington and Wellington-Melbourne-Singapore flights.
Singapore Airlines maintains Canberra, Wellington codeshares
Although Singapore Airlines won’t return its own aircraft to the capitals, both cities will continue to be served under codeshare arrangements with Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand.
Travellers jetting to and from Canberra will do so via another Australian city – typically Sydney or Melbourne, although Brisbane and Adelaide are possible too – flying Virgin Australia on the domestic leg (under an SQ codeshare flight number), and Singapore Airlines on the international flight.
For Wellington, the arrangements are similar, but involving its Star Alliance partner Air New Zealand.
This will see Wellington-bound or -based travellers flying via either Auckland or Christchurch, aboard Air New Zealand on the domestic flight (again, sold as an SQ codeshare), and with Singapore Airlines on the international service.
“We will proactively contact customers who are affected by the decision to suspend our Canberra and Wellington services,” Goh assures.
(In aviation industry speak, ‘suspend’ commonly signifies the full withdrawal of a service, but in a way that maintains the distant possibility that such flights may one day resume: even many years down the line.)
The previous launch, and reshuffle, of Canberra and Wellington
Singapore Airlines began serving Canberra and Wellington some 3.5 years ago, initially flying to both cities using a single aircraft: running as Singapore-Canberra-Wellington in one direction, and Wellington-Canberra-Singapore in the other.
Branded as the ‘Capital Express’, the flights directly linked the national capitals of Australia and New Zealand, making Singapore the first airline to offer regularly scheduled international flights from Canberra – to be later followed by Qatar Airways.
Melbourne eventually replaced Canberra as the stopover point for the airline’s Wellington flights: a move that helped entice trans-Tasman-only travellers to book with Singapore Airlines between Melbourne and Wellington, and helped fill up the Singapore leg with more Australian travellers.
At the same time, Canberra instead moved to a ‘triangle’ service with Singapore and Sydney.
This meant losing both its non-stop flights to Wellington and the non-stop Singapore-Canberra service, but did allow Canberra to retain its non-stop Canberra-Singapore leg, while providing an extra departure option for Sydneysiders looking to fly later in the day.
With the withdrawal of Canberra and Wellington, Singapore Airlines currently serves Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in Australia, along with Auckland and Christchurch in New Zealand, for those able to fly.
Singapore Airlines’ regional arm SilkAir continues to pause its flights from Singapore to both Darwin and Cairns, with these flights currently set to return in late 2020 per the airline’s booking systems, although this may change if international travel restrictions remain.
In previous news, Singapore Airlines permanently closed its SilverKris lounge at Adelaide Airport back in May, handing the space back to the airport authority, which plans to build a shared international ‘premium lounge’ in 2021.
Singapore Airlines' partner, Virgin Australia, also recently shuttered its Wellington lounge, and closed two other lounges serving regional flyers in Australia.