Late last year Singapore Airlines announced they’d be discontinuing the two longest flights in the world, operating between Singapore and Newark/Los Angeles. The service will terminate later this year, and the reason for the flights being axed is that Singapore is retiring their A340-500 aircraft, the only ones in their fleet capable of operating those flights nonstop.
Via AsiaOne, it looks like Delta wants to jump in and take over the nonstop flights at some point in the near future:
TOKYO – American carrier Delta Air Lines is ready to move in when Singapore Airlines pulls the plug on its non-stop flights to the United States later this year.
“Our main focus is to win and secure the corporate business class market,” said Delta’s managing director for Asia Pacific, Mr Jeffrey S. Bernier.
Speaking to The Straits Times at the airline’s Tokyo hub recently, he added: “Corporate business travellers want non-stops so historically, SIA has had the lion’s share of the business in two of the largest US markets – Los Angeles and New York.”
Now, the way this article is written (or at least the way I read it) doesn’t make it totally clear that they intend to pursue nonstop service to Singapore. They instead note that business travelers like nonstop flights and that they want to secure corporate business contracts between those cities, which doesn’t necessarily have to translate to nonstop service.
I think Delta is a bit naive to think they have a product that’s competitive with Singapore’s, though:
“We have clearly differentiated ourselves from other US carriers. We want to compete head to head with the Asian carriers.
“We’re investing not only in the product but also staff training so we can take care of our customers.”
I’m not sure in which way they think they’ve differentiated themselves from other US carriers, especially as far as their Singapore service goes, given that they operate their Singapore to Tokyo Narita service with a 777, which features herringbone seats in business class. Meanwhile their 747s feature reverse herringbone seats similar to those on American and Cathay Pacific, which are much more competitive, in my opinion.
Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see if Delta tries to step in and replace the nonstop flights. Short of some serious corporate discounts I doubt Delta will be able to secure much of the market share that previously went to the nonstop flights with a single daily 777 to Tokyo Narita that leaves early in the morning.
If they do plan on offering nonstop service to the US out of Singapore they’d have a much better chance at securing the market share, though I still have to wonder about the economics of operating the service. Singapore just couldn’t make the service work, both when they had a two cabin configuration and also when they had an all business class configuration. Yes, admittedly the A340-500 is a gas guzzler, though if they thought the service could work long term something tells me they would have picked up a few 777-200LRs to operate the service.
It’s just so expensive to operate an ultra longhaul flight given the added weight of all the extra fuel that has to be carried and the limited potential to carry cargo. If Delta were to start the route I also have to wonder whether they’d reconfigure their 777-200LRs in a configuration with more business class seats, or if they would operate it in the same configuration they have now.
What do you guys think? Could Delta make this service work?
(Tip of the hat to Jim)