Passengers from Chennai will soon be able to fly into Singapore for a one-way fare starting under ?4,500 while a one-way trip to Sydney will be available for under ?15,000. Scoot, the low-cost, medium-haul arm of the Singapore Airlines Group is to start daily services from Chennai to Singapore from May 24. On the same day it will also launch a three-times-a-week flight between Singapore and Amritsar.
Bharath Mahadevan, Country Head, Scoot India, spoke to BusinessLine on the airline’s plans in India including offering drop-dead fares every Tuesday just to stimulate the market.
When does Scoot start flying to India?
We will fly daily into Chennai from Singapore from May 24 apart from launching a three-times-a-week flight between Singapore and Amritsar on the same day. We will go up to four-times-a-week between Amritsar and Singapore from July 1.
Besides, from October 2 we will launch a three times a week Singapore-Jaipur flight which will increase to four times a week from October 28.
What aircraft will you be deploying?
On the Chennai route we will deploy a Dreamliner Boeing 787-800 which offers 21 premium economy seats and 314 economy seats. Jaipur will be the same aircraft while in Amritsar we will deploy the 787-900. The aircraft that we will operate to Chennai is being delivered this week while the one that we will operate to Jaipur is being delivered on September 25.
Has there been an enhancement in the India-Singapore Air Services Bilateral agreement which is allowing Scoot to start operations to Chennai?
There is no enhancement in the Air Services Bilaterals between India and Singapore. In Chennai we are taking over the flight from Tigerair It will cease operations from Chennai from May 24. Jaipur and Amritsar are part of the 18 points which were exchanged between India and the Association of South East Asian Nations as part of the `Open skies’ agreement in 2003.
Will Tigerair withdrawing and Scoot taking over the Chennai route see an enhancement of seats on offer on the route to Singapore?
A marginal increase of about 300-odd seats a week.
Why the decision for Tigerair to withdraw and Scoot to come into India?
Tigerair is 100 per cent owned by Singapore Airlines. To tap synergies there are certain markets where long haul aircraft like a B 787 would work economically better than a narrow body aircraft like the Airbus 320 which Tiger operates.
Purely in terms of economics because cost per seat is lower. Also in terms of cargo. Chennai is a huge cargo market for Singapore Airlines. The 787 is better suited to carry cargo. A narrow body aircraft cannot carry that much cargo.
How much will the cargo capacity go up out of Chennai?
The published capacity of a Boeing 787 is 10 tonnes. We should be able to carry 14-15 tonnes on average per flight. Tigerair is a narrow body so it is not even comparable but the published capacity is about 2 tonnes per flight.
Will Singapore Airlines continue to serve the Chennai market after Scoot begins operations?
Singapore Airlines has a daily flight which will continue.
So apart from Singapore Airlines, its 100 per cent low cost arm will also operate daily from Chennai?
What will the difference be between Scoot and Singapore Airlines flights?
In terms of aircraft, we both operate wide-body aircraft. But Singapore Airlines is a completely full service carrier with in-flight entertainment, network connections they have out of Singapore, food and wine and other things. It has a full-fledged business class out of Chennai.
We do not call ourselves a low cost carrier because we operate what we call a long haul wide-body aircraft. When we operate long haul we cannot have the same seat pitch, the same traditional low cost offerings. We need to offer the same comfort that the long haul carriers offer.
But what we do is unbundle the pricing so if a passenger wants alcohol or in-flight entertainment or food he buys it. In Singapore Airlines it is all included in the price.
So if a person buys a base price ticket on Scoot it will not include food, inflight entertainment and liquor?
That is correct.
Will free baggage be part of the base ticket?
We are starting off with a base fare of $64 (?4242 at ?66.29) all inclusive out of Chennai to Singapore one-way that has only cabin baggage (7 kg) and the seat.
If a person adds check in baggage and meal how much more will the fare become?
Baggage is $20 per sector (?1,326) and meal is $ 12 per sector (?795).
How much lower will this be versus a base ticket on Singapore Airlines?
Including alcohol and baggage it will be 40-50 per cent lower depending on the sector. Our focus is not Singapore Airlines but Malaysian, Jet Airways, Thai Airways and so on.
What is the passenger profile from Chennai?
In Chennai, we are looking at changing strategy. Tiger was mainly looking at passengers going to Singapore while we are looking at building the network. So we are looking at passengers going beyond to Australia, Taipei, Korea and Japan. We are looking at both corporate and leisure. Our fares to Australia start at $169 (?11,203) to Gold Coast one-way all inclusive and $189 (? 12,529) to Sydney.
We are looking at a network out of Chennai and not just to Singapore which is what a traditional low cost airline will focus on like Tiger and IndiGo. Patrick Roy JerseyShare This