Singapore Airlines Restarting Nonstop Flights To The US This Year

As I posted about yesterday, Singapore Airlines has been hinting at a big announcement, and they’ve been posting clues on their social media pages.

Singapore-Airlines-Clues

My prediction was that they’d launch nonstop flights between Singapore and the US this year using an Airbus A350. A few years back Singapore Airlines discontinued their only nonstop flights between Singapore and the US. They discontinued them since they were returning their A340-500s to Airbus as part of a bigger deal, and those were the only planes capable of flying the route nonstop.

Singapore Airlines was planning on restarting nonstop flights between Singapore and the US in 2018, when they take delivery of their first A350-900ULR (ultra long range) aircraft, which will be capable of flying from Singapore to New York nonstop.

However, I imagine the airline felt some of the pressure when United began flying nonstop between Singapore and San Francisco earlier this month, given that historically Singapore Airlines was the only airline with nonstop flights between Singapore and the US.

SFO-SIN

Well, it looks like we now officially know what the announcement will be, and it’s no surprise. Per AusBT, Singapore Airlines will announce a nonstop flight between Singapore and San Francisco later this week and the flight should launch later this year. According to Airbus, the plane will only feature about 170 seats, though, as opposed to their current configuration, which features 253 seats.

I assume this is to keep the weight of the plane down, since this flight is right at the operating limit of the aircraft. Back in the day, Singapore Airlines A340-500s were in an all business class configuration with just 100 seats, which kept the weight of the plane low enough so they could operate nonstop.

I’m curious to see if perhaps they operate a configuration exclusively with business class and premium economy, or perhaps more likely is that it features business class, premium economy, and a very small economy cabin.

Bottom line

This is an interesting route for Singapore Airlines to launch. Even back in the day they didn’t operate nonstop flights between Singapore and San Francisco, so this seems to be an almost purely competitive move, and something they’re doing because it’s the only route on which they can operate one of their A350s which isn’t in a ULR configuration.

At the same time, Singapore Airlines will now have three flights to San Francisco, including a nonstop flight, one through Hong Kong, and one through Seoul Incheon.

Interesting times. I look forward to the full announcement later this week.

What do you make of Singapore Airlines’ new nonstop flight to San Francisco?

Comments

  1. Is there really true demand out there for US-Singapore non-stop flights?
    I would imagine many people use Singapore as a connecting hub in SE Asia rather than a destination on its own, and in this case other Asian cities that are closer to the US (e.g. Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, etc) would serve this purpose sufficiently.
    Thoughts?

  2. SFO is not (IMHO) the airport to launch this nonstop. LAX is the better airport as SFO is over saturated with SQ flights. You have much better feeder and original point passenger traffic as a LAX (not just UA but a JetBlue and even Southwest can feed into a SQ flight). Plus I have been waiting for a second SQ flight to come back to LAX.

  3. I’m going to Shanghai in October, hopefully this flight will be up by then and award space is open.

  4. @Tom
    You will be surprised; when they had the nonstop flights between Singapore and JFK, I flew it once every month or so
    @Marc
    LAX is about 300 miles more, which may push the A350’s range a little

  5. Frankly, I am a little bit excited that SQ will be re-starting their direct flights to the USA. But I am also disappointed that they will be flying to SFO. I was hoping they are flying to SEA instead. Since the distance between SIN and SEA is about 1700 nautical miles shorter. Of course, SFO makes sense since most of the tech companies are based in that region. But SEA has its share of MNCs and it is just next door to Vancouver.

  6. Living in the east, I used to love the EWR-SIN non-stop but at the time we were kind of on a budget so when they made it all business, we no longer used it. We often take SQ25-26 JFK-FRA-SIN but the layover isn’t so wonderful. Still, it is a wonderful way to use points and miles as it counts as one flight. Took suites last year and it was great! You can take advantage of sleep plus all the food, drink and entertainment.

    Flights from SFO don’;t help east coast people unless we choose to spend a few days in SF before or after.

  7. Think would SQ number the direct SIN-SFO Flight SQ1/2 and renumber the SIN-HKG-SFO flight or actually just cancel it outright as there’s a SQ flight to HKG a hour later? If the latter then it’d be a shame as SQ2’s time from SIN-HKG’s perfect.

  8. I’m sure that SQ will discontinue one of the 1 stops – or both – from SFO with this new flight. There’s no way they’re keeping 3 in the market. I guess we’ll find out with the official announcement.

  9. I guess it’s good to see a nonstop flight but I hope this and LAX/JFK nonstops won’t result in cancellations of one-stop routes SQ currently runs. LAXNRT in Suites is pretty nice, for example.

  10. You mention the capacity and I’m wondering what is United’s capacity? I’d image United is flying the highest most uncomfortable density they can get away with? Also they are both star alliance aren’t they suppose to be working together? Anyway seems like if you were a Star Alliance member it’s a no brainer you’d choose Singapore Airlines over United on the same route given the pricing was competitive.

  11. I wonder why SIN doesnt serve YVR. It’s almost 500 miles shorter than SFO and they could partner with AC or WestJet. SEA is also possible and they can partner with AS

  12. @David W:

    AS doesn’t partner with *A. My understanding is that *A is rather strict with allowing partnerships outside the alliance, and obviously it would be a slap in the face to UA given their hubs in SFO and LAX.

  13. @Nick – no. Just because UA and SQ are star alliance doesn’t mean they really have to work together. They are kind of enemies, to be honest. Up until now they have not coded on each other and they really don’t work together at all, except for basic interlining and for basic award accruals and redemptions. They’ve never worked together, don’t share any revenue, and since UA started the route I’m sure SQ is losing the higher yielding traffic from SFO as UA operates the nonstop and SQ requires a stop, even though SQ has nicer service. TBD what happens once SQ starts their flight.

  14. I’m sure the nonstop will replace one of the existing flights. Back when they were launched the LAX nonstop replaced a second stopping LAX flight they used to run via TPE, and the EWR nonstop flight replaced a second stopping NYC flight they used to run via AMS. SQ simply can’t make much money with the competition they face on those stopping routes.

  15. @Zach: “when they had the nonstop flights between Singapore and JFK, I flew it once every month or so”

    Hm, I guess you’re forgetting the least memorable part of the flight, which is that you arrived and departed EWR, not JFK!

  16. lol @snic. Yes it was EWR. Back when they did nonstop between SIN-EWR there was demand for it but not enough to keep the route on an a340. I’ll admit I noticed J award availability diminish on the JFK-FRA-SIN route ever since they stopped flying SIN-EWR nonstop. :/

  17. @Nick- UA has configured their 787 with 78 business class seats out of 145, so over half the plane. Then 35 E+, and only 32 regular economy. You can’t fit that many people in and still keep the weight down.

  18. The all J non-stop SIN-EWR on the A340 was a great experience: 17 or 18 hours but felt like 8 or 10. Left Singapore around 0900 and arrived NYC late afternoon/early evening. I took it 4 or 5 times as a sector on a RTW ( but had to pay a premium for that particular flight). However I doubt that I would do it, or a variation of it, these days because time is no longer a factor in my planning and I’m happy with the cheaper “milk run” route.
    IIRC, it was hit pretty bad by the economic crisis and load dropped ( and I’m not sure that we will ever see a return to the days of a viable ” to hell with the cost” all J route.

  19. @ George

    Where are you getting your information?

    From both SeatGuru and Wikipedia, it says that there is 48J, 88Y+, and 116Y. I didn’t think the 787 was weight restricted on this route.

  20. I can confirm that SQ will kill off one of the one-stop flights. They won’t be going 3 daily to SFO.

  21. @George – where do you get that UA configuration??? UA has 48 J seats, with the vast majority then economy. Very easy to tell that – just look at their app / web site, pull up a flight status for flight 1, and you can see that capacity for J class is 48. This is further corroborated on seat guru, which lists the 789 as having 48 seats in J, 116 economy and 88 economy plus (204 total economy seats) for 252 total seats on the 789. This is further corroborated in their press release announcing the new flight : http://newsroom.united.com/2016-01-28-United-Airlines-to-Operate-Longest-Scheduled-Flight-Between-San-Francisco-and-Singapore

    Where did you get your numbers? They’re inaccurate

  22. Would be great if they also added a transcon that started in JFK/EWR, connected in SFO, then continued to SIN.

  23. @Jamaal-
    that’s why SQ works with JetBlue and Virgin America. For the transcon linking JFK/EWR to SFO. sQ would not be allowed to carry local passengers, and they have better things they can do with their aircraft than fly a domestic roundtrip within the US where they have no rights to pick up local passengers, in a market that is already brutally competitive and relatively low yield.

  24. The VX partnerships brings a lot of feed to SFO, but what will happen after AS absorbs them? SQ doesn’t partner with AS currently. Will they begin a parternship, or will they rely on B6, which only serves JFK and BOS from SFO?

  25. Seems like a good move for SQ if they want to pick up US based traffic. Currently, if you’re SFO based and want to go to BKK/SGN/KUL or even to Australia/India/China why would you pick SQ on a 2 stop itinerary when Cathay, JAL, etc…. can get you there on 1 stop? Sure SQ is a lovely airline but most travelers still pick convenient scheduling. price and comfort of seat over the quality of the champagne in J.

  26. @eponymous coward
    Contra example of your *A not allowing partners with AS: OZ SJC-ICN can be routed as SJC-AS-SEA-OZ-ICN.

  27. Pretty sure AusBT was referring to the A350 ULRs when they were talking about the configuration, not the ones that will be used on this route. I think SQ is talking around 250ish seats on this config, which would be their long-range config. 42J/24PY/187Y. That’s the only configuration until less J-heavy A350S in their medium-haul configs are delivered until 2017. Not until 2018 is when the config in the article is even released.

  28. @Tom – My colleagues and I fly to SIN twice a month on average for work and travel. We were excited when SQ contacted us about this change since we are regulars on that route.

  29. In tandem with this SFO-SIN service, SQ downgraded SIN-NRT-LAX from 380 to 77w. Lots of people with award bookings are going to get unpleasantly moved from suites to first.

  30. Currently about 75% (or more) of the passengers in the two SQ flights out of SFO are to the Indian Subcontinent. When SQ 31 (SFO-SIN) is launched then people travelling to the Indian Subcontinent will prefer it, especially since it reaches SIN around 18:30, just in time for the connecting flights to India. Without the traffic from the Indian Subcontinent, I don’t think they can even fill one plane daily.

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