Singapore Airlines gears up for Canberra-Wellington 'Capital Express'

By David Flynn, September 15 2016
Singapore Airlines gears up for Canberra-Wellington 'Capital Express'

Singapore Airlines is confident that its new Capital Express service between Singapore, Canberra and Wellington is here to stay.

With solid bookings reported for the first few months beyond the September 21 launch date, the airline is looking beyond first blush to an established base of government, business and leisure travellers.

The innovative route – developed in concert with Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand – links the capital cities of Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, with business travellers able to book the entire 13 hour journey or just the Singapore-Canberra or Canberra-Wellington legs.

And while initially slated to run four days per week, there's a clear intent to see the flights eventually ramp up to a daily frequency. 

The first leg of flight SQ292 departs Wellington at 9.15pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, to arrive into Canberra at 10.05pm. After a brief refuelling stop, SQ292 will be wheels-up again at 11.30pm for a 5.50am arrival into Singapore the following day.

The SQ291 return journey leaves Singapore at 11pm on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, to reach Canberra at 8.35am the next day, then continues to Wellington for a 4.05pm arrival.

The Boeing 777-200 accommodates 38 business class passengers in the airline's 'regional business class' seating, which converts into an angled bed for the night-time leg.

The flights mark the debut of long-awaited international services at Canberra, for which the airport has built a new departure area and immigration facilities, including electronic departure gates.

With the international departures lounge catering for up to 600 passengers – more than twice as many as even the fully-booked Singapore Airlines flight can carry – the airport is clearly looking ahead to additional flights from other airlines to other destinations.

Qantas is believed to have run the numbers on a trans-Tasman route between Canberra and Auckland but is keeping a watchful eye on Capital Express bookings.

“We're always looking at new opportunities but nothing (is) planned at this time” a Qantas spokesman told Australian Business Traveller.

The departures area includes seperate business and media zones, private meeting rooms and a variety of seating styles "ranging from formal business oriented spaces to relaxed social and private spaces", with plenty of AC outlets to recharge your tech before the flight.

Singapore Airlines is also considering creating a 'premium area' with dedicated seating near the departure gate, where business class passengers and top-tier frequent flyers of Singapore Airlines, partner Virgin Australia and other Star Alliance airlines can gather after leaving the upstairs Virgin Australia lounge.

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.