Singapore Airlines is by no means a new kid on the block. In fact, it’s more likely to be considered part of the aviation industry’s furniture, after celebrating its 70th anniversary just last year.
The airline has been flying to London since 1971 and from Manchester since 1986, so why is it only recently re-entering the psyche of many Aberdonians? Well, quite unusually, in 2016 it became the first Asian-based carrier to operate a transatlantic route from the UK to the USA.
You might think the route is London to New York? Or definitely London…? Except you’d be wrong – on all counts. Singapore Airlines chose to launch Manchester to Houston, which, together with its partner Flybe, means it suddenly shot onto the radar locally.
The obvious two questions that follow are ‘why?’ and ‘why now?’. Well, in short, the carrier believes it can bring a unique product offering to a new market at a time when the energy sector shows signs of increased activity and therefore travel.
Operating from Manchester to Houston allows the carrier to tap into the celebrated Northern Powerhouse, whilst a close relationship with Flybe, allows it to appeal to customers in the UK regions – particularly Scotland and specifically Aberdeen.
Not surprisingly, the carrier confirms that many routing options were considered in the run up to the Manchester-Houston flight’s launch back in October 2016 but whether it was London or other European cities being considered, none offered the same potential.
Of course, for those departing the carrier’s home-base in Singapore, Manchester is a stopover point on the way to Houston. Indeed, the carrier concedes it would be challenging – perhaps unrealistic – to support the route all the way direct from Singapore to Houston; similarly, from Manchester alone. It does believe, however, that the current set up – operated by the airline’s celebrated three-cabin A350 aircraft – will deliver not only a viable route but also a desirable alternative to the more established routings via London or Europe.
The partnership with Flybe is of particular significance to the route’s success so far, as more and more travellers from cities including Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow take up the offering via Manchester. Whether connecting onto the five times weekly transatlantic flights, or the more traditional eastbound flights to Singapore, Singapore Airlines would like to see even more travellers consider the option. Work continues behind the scenes to make the process as seamless as possible, while it promises to be in it for the long-haul. Considering their record of operations in the UK already, there’s plenty of time to give the new routing a try but, honestly, why wait?