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Singapore Airlines The World’s Longest, Non-Stop Commercial Flight Operator

Issue 2 - 2019
Singapore Airlines General Manager Mark Seah: “We would like to further consolidate and strengthen our position in Istanbul in the near term.”
Aviation Turkey: Mr. Mark Seah, first of all thank you for your time. Singapore Airlines has been organizing nonstop flights to Turkey for nearly 30 years and is known as the first airline flying from Asia to Turkey. Can you tell us about the history of the operations in Turkey and future plans of the company?

Mark Seah (MS): Singapore Airlines started to fly between Istanbul and Singapore on 29 Oct 1987 which was Turkish Republic Day and memorable. In 31 years’ time we have flown between Singapore – Istanbul via Manchester, Dahran, Dubai and Athens by B747, B773 and B772. Since 2010 we started to fly non-stop between 2 countries. Within this year we are expecting a new A350 which will serve the market with Business Class, Premium Economy Class and Economy Class.

Aviation Turkey: Singapore Airlines organizes 5 direct flights from Singapore to Istanbul airport and we know that you are willing to increase the number of flights to 7. In the near future do you see any new flights coming to other airports in Turkey?

MS: SIA has many strategic initiatives that have helped us to build a portfolio of airline products catering to multiple market segments across a range of brands. We have a diversified route network which is integral to ensuring that Singapore remains a hub, which requires a mix of short-haul, medium-haul, long-haul and ultra-long-haul operations. There are currently no plans to start services to other cities in Turkey, although we constantly review our network and are open to exploring opportunities should the conditions be favorable. Istanbul is still Turkey’s largest city in terms of population size and economy, and we would like to further consolidate and strengthen our position in Istanbul in the near term.

Aviation Turkey: You have been placed on the top rankings on the Skytrax awards, the world`s top airlines, for many years. In 2018, you were selected as the best airline company in the world by Skytrax aviation awards. Behind this success there has to be a well-planned strategy, a competent and qualified structure. Could you please share with us a bit more about the factors that created this success?

MS: The key elements of safety, a zealous focus on our customers, product innovation and leadership, as well as network connectivity, form the foundation of our competitive offering. What has been essential to Singapore Airlines’ growth and success over the years is a commitment to placing the customer first in our efforts to deliver unsurpassed service levels, as well as a culture of product and service innovation. We constantly strive to make our customers feel at home, both on the ground and in the air.

Aviation Turkey: Singapore Airlines operates the world`s longest, non-stop 18 hour commercial flights between Singapore and New York, and Istanbul - Singapore direct flights take 12 hours. What does Singapore Airlines offer their passengers in terms of safety and comfort during 10 hour flights? What characteristics and features separate you from your rivals?

MS: We do not comment on our competitors, but SIA and Canyon Ranch, the world’s premiere integrative wellness brand, have forged a partnership to re-invent ultra-long-haul travel with a focus on wellness cuisines, rest and relaxation, and general well-being on the world’s longest flights. The Canyon Ranch team of experts from integrative medicine, exercise, nutrition and other disciplines have developed science-based strategies for improved sleep, exercise and stretching, as well as new, nutrition-focused menus, applied specifically to SIA’s non-stop service between Singapore and New York (Newark). The program will also extend to Singapore-US non-stop services to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

•Wellness Cuisines - developed by Canyon Ranch chefs and nutritionists focused on nutrition and hydration (taking into consideration longer flight duration with less body movement), combined with bold flavors and textures. These wellness cuisines are offered in addition to SIA’s own meal selections and creations by its International Culinary Panel chefs.

•Rest and Relaxation - which includes sleep strategies designed to help customers in all cabin classes improve the duration and quality of rest, as well as specific light settings in providing better cabin ambience for rest and relaxation.

•Guided Stretching Exercises - led by Canyon Ranch exercise physiologists, accessible via personal seatback entertainment systems to promote relaxation.

Aviation Turkey: Air Cargo is another challenge that has been a thriving sector in Turkey for a while and Singapore Airlines plays an active role in the air Cargo of the Western Pacific region. Could you please inform us about the destinations and carrying capacities that are available from Turkey?

MS: SIA Cargo has operations to 144 destinations over 5 continents, and most of the capacity comes from the belly hold of our passenger aircraft across the SIA Group. In particular to the South West Pacific, we have cargo operations to 9 cities in Australia and 3 cities in New Zealand. Other than passenger aircraft, we also operate the B744 freighter aircraft to Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland. From Turkey itself, we have cargo capacity in our belly hold of up to 16 tons per flight.

SIA Cargo is able to provide our customers with a wide range of services like handling perishables, live animals and e-commerce amongst others. We recently launched the THRUCOOL service in September 2018, which is a cold chain service to transport high-value, time-sensitive and temperature-controlled pharmaceutical cargo with speed and reliability. We were the first airline in the Asia Pacific region to receive the IATA CEIV Pharma certification in 2017 and we were subsequently named the Best Air Cargo Carrier for Asia at the 2018 Asian Freight, Logistics & Supply Chain (AFLAS) Awards.

Aviation Turkey: Scoot airlines, the subsidiary brand of Singapore airlines, is a low-cost airline company and highly preferred in the Asia region. We also know that Scoot is eager to widen its network with more long-haul flights such as Europe etc. What are your projections for Scoot long haul flights?

MS: Scoot launched non-stop flights from Singapore to Athens and to Berlin in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Results have been promising so far, and therefore Scoot is cautiously optimistic that there is indeed a growing market for budget long-haul travel. That said, launching long-haul routes requires substantial investment and complex operating considerations, so Scoot is currently focused on building the existing routes in terms of load factors and yields, while also growing its brand presence in these new markets. If there are other budget long-haul destinations with promising demand, we will be sure to explore.

Aviation Turkey: We see that low-cost airlines do not have much long-haul flight experience in the world. In conjunction with these long-haul flights, Scoot aims to gain different experience in the sector. Could you please tell us about your forecast of the low-cost long-haul flights’ growth in near future? İf we consider the customer experience, comfort and satisfaction, how do you define your new approach in these flights?

MS: As mentioned earlier, we see potential in the budget long-haul model in Asia, especially with the emergence of more middle-class consumers seeking to travel. Scoot was one of the first low-cost carriers to operate the widebody 787 Dreamliners, which made previously uneconomical routes viable and significantly reduced unit costs. The Dreamliners are more spacious than narrow body aircraft and have better air quality and quieter engines. They also allowed Scoot to develop contemporary add-on products for the long-haul traveler in mind, such as inflight Wi-Fi, in-seat power, our child-free ScootinSilence cabin and our ScootBiz product for those seeking a more premium experience. These features led us to be one of the first to elevate the low-cost carrier experience and make the prospect of low-cost long-haul travel attractive to customers.

To find out more about Scoot’s products and services, please visit our website at www.flyscoot.com

Aviation Turkey: Singapore Airlines places a special emphasis on technology and technological developments. Can you tell us about the first blockchain based digital Wallet KrisPay?

MS: KrisPay is the world’s first blockchain-based airline loyalty digital wallet and was launched in July 2018. The technology was developed in collaboration with KPMG Digital Village and Microsoft and comes in the form of an app which can be downloaded from Apple and Google Play Store. KrisPay allows our frequent flyer members to convert their KrisFlyer miles into KrisPay miles instantly through the app for everyday spending at partner merchants in Singapore, ranging from food & beverage to petrol to retail. We are actively looking to partner with merchants around the world to offer our global KrisFlyer members more avenues to spend their KrisFlyer miles.

Aviation Turkey: Finally, do you have a message for Aviation Turkey readers?

MS: Thanks to the support of your readers and local partners, SIA has served the Turkish market for more than three decades, and we look forward to many more years of success and growth. It has been our joy to bring many people from around the world to witness and experience the beauty of Turkey, and at the same time become a bridge between Turkey and the rest of world, facilitating an exchange of ideas, trade and culture. We look forward to welcoming you onboard our flights soon


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