Low cost airlines are step by step providing new competition in long-haul markets, particularly on the lucrative Europe-Southeast Asia market. Airlines in the region have been indeed leading the trend. It started back to 2009 when AirAsia X launched its first flights from Kuala Lumpur to London and Paris. Three years ago it was followed by Scandinavia-based Norwegian Air which regularly serves Bangkok out of Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm. Last year, German-based Eurowings launched year-round flights from Cologne to both Bangkok and Phuket. And now, it will be the turn of Scoot, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, which announced to fly from next year from Singapore to Athens.
Talking to Singapore ‘The Straits Times’, Lee Lik Hsin, CEO of Budget Aviation Holdings (the umbrella company which controls both Tigerair and Scoot) indicated that the airline is likely to announce a second European destination out of Singapore. A proper announcement is due before the end of the year. Scoot scrutinizes closely Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and Manchester in the UK, some of these cities being already served by Singapore Airlines.
The Singapore-Athens route will benefit of four weekly frequencies with an expected launch by June 2017 with a Boeing 787. The aircraft will offer according to configuration between 280 and 295 seats in Economy Class while the Premium Class (ScootBiz) will have a number of seats varying between 21 and 35.
Scoot wants to leverage on synergies with its own network as well as Tigerair network in Singapore. The airline looks at promoting transfer traffic from Athens to Australia – a very important market due to a high number of Greece-originated Australians- as well as to Southeast Asia – particularly Thailand and Indonesia. Following the economic crisis in Greece in 2009/2010, many Asian airlines which used to fly to the Greek capital closed down their operation.Thai Airways International and Singapore Airlines were among the ones.
AirAsia X is also looking at being back in Europe. Recently Group CEO Tony Fernandes indicated to soon fly back to London. The airline will most likely look for the delivery of its new long haul aircraft, the Airbus A330Neo due to join AirAsia X fleet by early 2018.