Rumor: Singapore Airlines Launching Houston To Manchester Route

A bit over a month ago, Singapore Airlines announced some radical changes to their route network to the Americas, including the following:

  • A daily nonstop San Francisco to Singapore flight launching as of October 23, 2016
  • San Francisco to Seoul to Singapore flight shifting to Los Angeles as of October 23, 2016
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita to Singapore flight being downgraded from an A380 to a 777-300ER as of October 23, 2016
  • Barcelona to Sao Paulo flight being discontinued as of October 20, 2016

Singapore-A380
Los Angeles to Tokyo is being downgraded from an A380 to a 777

Interestingly they didn’t announce any changes to their Houston to Moscow to Singapore flight, which came as a bit of a surprise. Not only is there a lot of reduced activity in the oil business, but beyond that the economy in Moscow seems to have gotten worse than most people anticipated.

Keep in mind that as of now all of Singapore Airlines’ flights between the US and Singapore are one stop, so they operate via a third country, given the distance between the US and Singapore. As a result, when Singapore Airlines picks a new route they’re trying to choose US cities with a lot of demand for travel to Singapore, but also cities with a lot of intermediate demand between the US and the stopover point, so they can really maximize year round yields and loads.

With that in mind, it’s surprising that the Houston to Moscow flight has stuck around. If you look at the loads on the flight, you’ll notice that first & business class typically go out with a lot of empty seats (Ford and I flew from Moscow to Houston yesterday, and we were the only first class passengers).

With that in mind, it looks like Singapore Airlines may soon be cutting their Houston to Moscow to Singapore route, and replacing it with a Houston to Manchester to Singapore route. As of now this is just a rumor, but I’ve now heard it from multiple sources (including one I know personally who is very reliable).

Moscow - 3
Moscow, Russia

So let’s go based off what delta154 on FlyerTalk says, which matches what I’ve heard otherwise, though is also very much subject to change:

  • Singapore to Manchester to Houston should launch around March 1, 2017
  • The current flight through Moscow operates 5x weekly, though with the new flight will operate daily
  • Presently Singapore Airlines operates a Singapore to Munich to Manchester flight, so the “tag” flight from Munich to Manchester will be cut
  • This route is formally expected to be announced in a couple of months

IAH-SIN

According to the poster, the schedule for the new flight will be as follows:

SQ62 Singapore to Manchester departing 2:30AM arriving 8:10AM
SQ62 Manchester to Houston departing 9:40AM arriving 2:05PM
SQ61 Houston to Manchester departing 5:40PM arriving 8:35AM (+1 day)
SQ61 Manchester to Singapore departing 10:05AM arriving 6:15AM (+1 day)

While Manchester is a sizable market as such, my first thought was that Manchester isn’t a Star Alliance hub, so it seems like an odd market to choose as an intermediate point. Wouldn’t it make sense to launch a route through an intermediate point that’s a Star Alliance hub? How about Houston to Zurich, Houston to Brussels, or Houston to Vienna, for example?

Hilton-Manchester-Deansgate-28
Manchester, UK

But then it started to make a bit more sense. While Singapore Airlines has long been in Star Alliance, they’ve very much taken an isolationist approach, and largely haven’t played nice with their partners, including United. However, the two airlines are finally restoring many codeshares.

As part of that, I suspect United would be much happier putting their code on a Houston to Manchester flight, one where they truly can’t otherwise compete out of Houston (they operate Houston to London, but don’t have any partner airlines flying from London to Manchester, for example).

Manchester as such is a market with good demand, presumably both from Houston and Singapore, so when you combine that with the through traffic they can get from Houston to Singapore, this route may very well do much better.

Moscow-Airport-Lounge - 34
Singapore Airlines 777 at Moscow Airport

Bottom line

Singapore axing their Houston to Moscow flight hasn’t yet officially been confirmed, and all of this is still subject to change. However, given the economy in Russia, I’m not surprised to see Singapore Airlines looking elsewhere. Hopefully they keep a 777-300ER on the route, so that it will continue to have first class. Singapore charges just 57,375 KrisFlyer miles for a first class award between Houston and Moscow, so that would be a great deal on miles between Houston and Manchester.

Would you like to see Singapore switch their Houston to Singapore route to operate via Manchester instead of Moscow? 

(Tip of the hat to @leops1984)

Comments

  1. There is almost no demand for travel TO Manchester. It is heavily driven by UK pax. Last time I checked, the Brits aren’t lining up to flock to Houston.

  2. SQ has an interesting history of using Manchester for 5th freedom flights. They used to run Manchester-Mumbai-Singapore on 747s until Summer 2003.

  3. I suspect SQ will do well out on Manchester to Australia connections, plus points in South East Asia. Going west I can’t see much to link Manchester and Houston so it has to be about connecting United traffic.

  4. Manchester seems like a more likely destination than Moscow for me. Looking forward to this route.

  5. I’ve been looking at booking IAH-DME using SQ miles next July and my booking dates were going to open soon. It has been wide open for months. Recently, all the days I have been checking went to wait list. I haven’t done a systematic search but noticed it.

  6. There is indeed a massive demand for both economy and premium flights out of manchester., I fly mostley premium cabins out of manchester (For Work) at least 13 times a year (In first and business, with airlines such as Qatar, Emirates, Etihad, Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, Etc…) and I have never experienced a cabin that isn’t pretty much full. There for I believe Singapore airlines will do very well out of Manchester ! I just wish they had launched the flight sooner 🙁 As in 2 weeks me and my family are flying to Singapore with Qatar in business and would of much rather have flown Singapore … (Because of the direct flights and first class)

  7. I am actually wondering if the Houston – Moscow – Singapore flight switch it’s intermediate stop to Manchester, will the flights solely b/w Singapore and Moscow be completely canceled, reduced frequency or not affected at all?

  8. Would I be able to book SFO-IAH-MAN using KrisFlyer miles? Need to be in Liverpool next summer for a few weeks and looking into premium cabin options to Manchester. Purged my United balance a few years ago but I’d love the chance to use some of my flexible points on Singapore.

  9. @ Matt — Yes, but if you want to include a segment on United you’d need to book via the Star Alliance award chart rather than the Singapore award chart, which is more expensive and doesn’t qualify for the 15% online booking discount. So I’d book the positioning flight separately.

  10. Ahhhhh good call. Thanks Ben! Now if we can just get someone else to fly SFO-IAH direct other than United.

  11. Isn’t Manchester picking up quite a bit of financial services business from the City (of London) do to lower costs of doing business? Definitely a boost to their economy…

  12. For me that’s great news. I am a frequent MAN flyer and I have to use UA’s lousy EWR-MAN service; and I come from Hawaii! So a UA to IAH and then Singapore all the way is heaven sent.

  13. Perhaps SQ is anticipating a post-Brexit scenario in which they can no longer operate MAN-MUC as a fifth freedom segment.

  14. This is a blessing for everyone; more access to the Dales on a great airline. Singapore Sling and some lobster on the way to Manchester in a 777-300ER in a bed with the best engine start in the world–GE90B— then you can follow that up by some great ales in Appletreewick at the Craven Arms. God bless the Dales!

  15. It looks like the Manchester flights have been loaded already. I checked a date in late December and saw the new routing

  16. Not seeing any F on this route loaded yet. “FIRST Class is unavailable for one or more sectors of your flights selection. As you may redeem for one cabin class in a booking, the next cabin class option is BUSINESS Class. Alternatively, you can make a separate flight booking for FIRST Class, subject to availability. “

  17. Too bad for medical tourism. My father flies from Moscow to Houston for medical treatment at Texas Medical Center at least twice per year.

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