Passengers impacted as Scoot wet leases Singapore Airlines 777 on Sydney route due to 787 engine issues

Scoot is wet leasing a 777-200 from parent Singapore Airlines (SIA) to cover Sydney-Singapore flights as it deals with another batch of engine issues on its 787 fleet.


Highlights

  • Scoot is wet-leasing a 777 from Singapore Airlines to operate some Sydney-Singapore flights in Jun-2018;
  • Scoot has wet leased or chartered a 777 from SIA several times over the last two years to fill in for 787s that have been removed from service due to Rolls-Royce engine issues;
  • The SIA-operated flights are somewhat controversial as the service is paired down, with the IFE system and power outlets turned off and no drinks other than water available;
  • The flights are dry as no alcohol is provided or available for sale.

Scoot has informed customers that SIA will be operating TR2 from Singapore to Sydney and TR3 from Sydney to Singapore between 6-Jun-2018 and 30-Jun-2018 (a total of 15 return flights as TR2/TR3 operates four times per week). Scoot has used SIA several times over the last two years on the Sydney-Singapore route when it is confronted with a shortage of in-service 787s.

Scoot has been impacted by the ongoing issues with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine. Scoot had one of its 787s grounded for four months in 2017 due to a shortage of engines in service, impacting its utilisation rates.

Scoot’s 787s were back at an average utilisation rate of 14 hours per day in 1Q2018 as all its aircraft were again in service. However, Scoot utilisation levels have again slipped since an Apr-2018 directive was issued, impacting some of the engines at Scoot and other 787 operators.

Utilisation rates typically increase during peak periods, including June, as June is a school holiday month in Singapore. Scoot was essentially unable to operate all the 787 flights it had originally scheduled (and sold) for Jun-2018 due to the new directive, which requires more frequent inspections of engines and applied a reduced ETOPs rating.

See related report from CAPA: CAPA Fleets: Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine directive implications

When Scoot was established in 2012 it said it would never rely on SIA when it was short aircraft due to unexpected maintenance issues. However, Scoot quickly changed this policy and has since used SIA several times when it is short widebody aircraft.

Scoot always decides to charter or wet lease an SIA aircraft for the Sydney-Singapore route as Australian authorities are familiar with the arrangement and SIA has several of its own flights to Sydney, making it easier to arrange for ground handling and crew accommodation.

Wet leasing an aircraft from SIA is hardly ideal as it leads to confusion among passengers and adds significant cost, but is better than cancelling flights entirely.

For the SIA operated charters, Scoot passengers check in at the SIA check-in counter at Sydney and Singapore. All seats are assigned at check-in. Passengers that pre-selected their seats are refunded seat fees.

SIA crew are used on the charter, which operates as SQ8122 on Sydney-Singapore and SQ8121 on Singapore-Sydney. One hot meal is provided along with water throughout the flight. No other drinks, including beer or wine, or snacks are available – for sale or complimentary.

The food and drink policy is somewhat controversial as Scoot normally has a full range of drinks including alcoholic beverages available for sale along with snacks. One drink is included (including beer or wine) for ScootBiz passengers and economy passengers purchasing meals receive one non-alcoholic drink included in the bundle.

Economy passengers who purchased the food/drink bundle are not being refunded although a drink is not offered on the charter. Economy passengers purchasing premium meals are also not refunded and do not get a meal on the charter that is different from other passengers. All ScootBiz passengers also are entitled to a premium meal as part of their package but on the charter are served the same meal as economy.

ScootBiz passengers and economy passengers pre-purchasing a premium meal could be upset by the service on the charter while economy passengers who did not buy any food or drink will be happy with the complimentary meal. Having a dry flight is obviously an inconvenience to some passengers who would expect that alcohol is at least available for sale.

SIA also turns off the IFE system on the Scoot charters. This is done as Scoot does not have IFE. However, Scoot has WiFi and power outlets on the 787, which gives passengers the option of using their own devices and keeping them powered up for the eight hour flight. WiFi has to be purchased while the power outlets are complimentary in ScootBiz and chargeable in economy.

The 777-200 SIA uses on the charters has power outlets in business class only but these are not available for use because the IFE system is turned off. Some ScootBiz passengers would naturally be upset by this along with economy passengers that may have planned to pay for the power outlets and WiFi to keep them entertained. In this respect the charter is offering a service that is below the Scoot standard.

Scoot passengers have complained before about the service on SIA operated charters and will surely complain when the new batch of flights operate next month. Understandably Scoot does not want to provide the normal SIA service – this is important for maintaining a distinction between the SIA Group’s two brands. However, Scoot is also unable to offer its normal service and by not having drinks even available for sale and by not offering any entertainment option (paid or otherwise) it will upset some passengers.

This situation is not ideal for both passengers and the airline. Scoot also has to deal with a significant economy class capacity reduction as SIA’s 777-200s have 228 or 245 seats compared to 340 on Scoot’s 787-9s. Scoot stopped earlier this month selling all the flights that have been chartered to SIA but on some flights may have sold more than 228 or 245 economy seats by the time it stopped taking new bookings.

ScootBiz passengers will get a bigger seat on the SIA-operated charter but the inferior service and lack of power outlets is a concern. Most economy passengers should be happy with the seats on the SIA charter as they are generally bigger but passengers pre-paying for extra legroom economy seats at the front of Scoot economy (known as Scoot in Silence as children aren’t allowed) or emergency row seats may be disappointed. While seat fees will be refunded they will not receive a similar seat on the charter.