Q&A: Singapore Airlines – Milestone achievement

Singapore Airlines has been f lying to South Africa for 25 years, with its first f light landing in Johannesburg on 29 March 1992. It began with a twice-weekly service using a Boeing 747-300 with one stop in Mauritius. Today, the airline offers a daily direct service between Singapore and Johannesburg; four of these f lights extend to Cape Town. Sally George, Singapore Airlines’ Market Development Manager, took some time to answer a few questions about the airline and its history with Africa.

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Q: As it’s now 25 years since SIA first flew to South Africa, what was the background to the first flight and viability of the route?
A: Flights were introduced at the time when South Africa was at the dawn of a new era and with the opening up on trade and travel restrictions.

Q: What ‘type’ of business travel do you see on this route?
A: A mixture of corporate and leisure as well as groups and incentives.

Q: What was the business case for SIA bringing the A350 into the fleet?
A: There was a strong demand for a bigger business class cabin as well as a premium economy product. We’ve increased our business class cabin with the A350 from 25 to 41 seats and upgraded the product offering.

Q: SIA is expected to re-start its non-stop Singapore-US Flights? What has made this possible?
A: Singapore Airlines has launched its new, daily, non-stop Singapore-San Francisco service using an A350-900ULR aircraft – the longest f light in our network. Flying time ranges between 14:35hrs and 17:45hrs depending on direction and time of year. Singapore Airlines is the launch customer for the A350- 900ULR, for which deliveries will begin in 2018. The aircraft will be used to re-launch non-stop f lights between Singapore and both New York and Los Angeles. SIA serves San Francisco twice-daily, with the other f lights operating via Hong Kong. Singapore Airlines also serves Los Angeles via both Seoul and Tokyo, Houston via Moscow, and New York JFK via Frankfurt.

Q: What can passengers expect in the SIA premium economy cabin?
A: The cabin is laid out in a 2-4-2 configuration. The seats are 19.5 inches wide with eight inches of recline and 38 inches of pitch and offer one power outlet and two USB ports. The entertainment system is delivered on a 13.3- inch touchscreen HD monitor. Customers receive a 35-kilogram excess baggage allowance and priority baggage handling as well as 110% KrisFlyer miles of distance travelled. On board, passengers are offered a choice of three main meals, champagne and curated red and white wines.

Q: How popular has premium economy been since SIA introduced the product on its South African route?
A: Extremely. We have strong load factors with a mixture of leisure and corporate travel, especially during the traditional school holiday periods.

Q: What are you doing to meet passenger demand for technological advancement and digitisation?
A: The free SingaporeAir mobile app brings you a whole new way to enjoy KrisWorld. Discover what is playing on KrisWorld even before you step on board, shortlist your favourite movies, TV or music and control the media playback right from your personal electronic device. You just need to link your device to your seat, which will also allow you to view the current f light path and location and check updated f light information. This feature is currently only available on our A350s and selected B777- 300ER aircraft.

Q: Have you made any changes to your loyalty programme?
A: There are no recent changes to the KrisFlyer programme, however on the PPS Club – for passengers travelling business or first class – there are a few updates. From 1 June, the PPS value accumulated on your travels may also earn you PPS Rewards. Once you’ve earned a PPS Reward, it will automatically appear in your KrisFlyer Account Summary, ready to be used for your next flight. Rewards include Double KrisFlyer Miles vouchers, which allows you to earn twice the miles for a single flight segment; a 50,000-mile discount on your next award flight or one-cabin class redemption upgrade; standby upgrade vouchers; and advance-upgrade vouchers, which allow you to apply for a one-cabin class upgrade at the point of booking.

Q: Are there any plans to expand your African footprint beyond South Africa?
A: We will consider venturing into new territories if it is commercially viable to operate. Currently we have a sales executive dedicated to many off-line territories in Africa to create more brand and product awareness in the region.