Scoot to retime Singapore-Melbourne flights to improve passenger experience

Scoot has boosted sixth freedom traffic from Sydney since rescheduling three weekly frequencies to improve connections with and India and is planning to introduce a similar schedule change for Melbourne.

Scoot adjusted its schedule to Singapore-Sydney for the current winter season by moving the Singapore departure time of three seven weekly frequencies from a 1:45am to 10am. The new return flight from Singapore departs Sydney at 20:45pm (one hour later daylight savings time) three days per week while the other four days the 12:30pm departure (or 130pm during daylight savings time) from Sydney has been maintained.

The new morning departure from Singapore connect with several of Scoot’s India-Singapore flights, which arrive in Singapore in the early morning. Scoot previously offered connections from Sydney to India using its existing afternoon flight from Sydney but did not have any convenient options on the return leg from India.

See related report: Scoot’s new Sydney schedule improves India-Sydney connections

Scoot chief commercial officer Leslie Thng says Scoot’s load factor on the Sydney-Singapore route has increased slightly since the new schedule was introduced while sixth freedom traffic is up significantly. Most of the sixth freedom passengers are originating or are heading to India.

Mr Thng said Scoot plans to introduce a similar split schedule for Melbourne in the southern summer season, which starts at the end of October. The new schedule will include two morning departures per week to Melbourne. Scoot will continue to operate three weekly flights to Melbourne at the existing departure time of 1:15am. Scoot has five weekly year-round flights to Melbourne, increasing to six during peak periods.

The new Singapore-Melbourne flights will improve connectivity to several Indian destinations and Athens. Offering connections between Melbourne and Athens in both directions is particularly important given that Melbourne has Australia’s largest Greek community.

Over half of Scoot’s Athens traffic now transits beyond Singapore, with Australia one of the main markets. With the new Singapore-Melbourne schedule, Scoot should be able to attract even more sixth freedom traffic on the Athens-Singapore route, boosting the overall load factor. Athens was launched in Jun-2017 with four weekly flights and is Scoot’s first long haul route.

Scoot is currently selling Melbourne-Athens flights with a transit time in Singapore of 8h15 on the outbound leg and a transit time of 21hr20min on the return leg. An early morning departure from Singapore to Melbourne and an early evening departure from Melbourne to Singapore could potentially reduce the connection time to less than 2hrs on the outbound leg and less than 4hrs on the return leg. Scoot’s Singapore-Athens flight departs Singapore at 2:30am and returns to Singapore at 3:55am.

Schedule changes to Scoot’s other two Australia destinations, Gold Coast and Perth, are also possible. Mr Thng said Scoot is now conducting a review of its entire Australia operation. Gold Coast is served with four weekly flights while Perth is served daily.

Gold Coast has a consistent schedule, with all flights departing Singapore 1025pm and departing Gold Coast at 900am. Scoot introduced a split schedule for Perth in Jun-2017.

However, the changes in Perth were relatively minor as three weekly frequencies were moved back by three hours from a 1210pm Singapore departure to 1500pm. The departure time from Perth for three frequencies was moved back from 1810pm to 2110pm. As there are still no morning flights from Singapore to Perth, Scoot is not able to offer convenient connections from Athens and several Indian points.

Scoot is keen to reduce its reliance on local point to point traffic in the Australia-Singapore market as well as its other markets. Less than 10% of Scoot’s total traffic now consists of transit passengers.

In Australia, Scoot has relied since its 2012 launch almost entirely on local Australia-Singapore traffic, a segment of the market which is highly competitive and relatively mature. It needs a higher transit mix in order to improve profitability in Australia – and ultimately grow.

Scoot has increased its focus on transit traffic following the 25-Jul-2017 completion of its merger with Tigerair. The newly merged LCC has over 60 destinations and has essentially become a network airline, moving on from Scoot’s initial point to point niche.

Scoot is trying to maximise opportunities in potential connecting markets as it reworks its schedule, selects new routes and selects existing routes for additional frequencies. Singapore-Melbourne is the first of several potential schedule adjustments following the completion of the merger. Most of the other changes will likely be implement in the southern winter schedule, which starts in late Mar-2018.