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SilkAir moving 17 services to Scoot ahead of merger

SilkAir has announced that it will transfer 17 destinations to the low-cost subsidiary Scoot progressively, starting from April 2019. 

In the same announcement, Scoot will be stopping its Honolulu service, barely a year after the inaugural service. It will also be giving up four other destinations that is currently served by SilkAir and Singapore Airlines.

SilkAir to Scoot transfers

The destinations SilkAir will be giving up to Scoot, along with the dates that will happen, are below:

LaosLuang Prabang, VientianeApril 2019
ChinaChangsha, Fuzhou, Kunming, WuhanMay, June 2019
IndiaCoimbatore, Trivandrum, VisakhapatnamMay – October 2019
ThailandChiang MaiOctober 2019
MalaysiaKota KinabaluDecember 2019
IndonesiaBalikpapan, Lombok, Makassar, Manado, Semarang, YogyakartaMay – July 2020

SilkAir has earlier this year transferred 6 other services – Hangzhou, Kalibo, Kuching, Langkawi, Palembang and Pekanbaru – to Scoot as well.

Observers who are following the merger keenly will know that 14 of SilkAir’s current fleet of Boeing 737-800s will be transferred to Scoot progressively as well, while Singapore Airlines will take the Boeing 737 MAX-8 under its wings.

I will assume that the transfer of the aircraft will go in tandem with the routes, otherwise Scoot has no other way to manage the extra flying without any new aircraft.

Scoot to terminate 5 destinations

Along with the SilkAir transfers, Scoot will also stop services to four destinations which are currently served by SilkAir and Singapore Airlines. They are: 

  • Bengaluru – May 2019
  • Shenzhen – June 2019
  • Kochi – October 2019
  • Chennai – May 2020

Scoot has also announced that it will stop its Honolulu services by June 2019, citing poor demand. This is not surprising, given it’s not the first long haul low-cost service to be culled; Norwegian announced its exit from the Singapore-London market earlier this year.

The stoppage of Honolulu services is definitely a dampener, given how Scoot has announced its intent to venture into longhaul route, which is an arguably tough market for low-cost carriers.

What this means

The bad news first: this means that Krisflyer members can no longer redeem tickets on the SilkAir network to these destinations after the transfer.

Of course, you may use your Krisflyer miles to redeem for Scoot flights, but intuitively, you will know that’s not a great value for your Krisflyer miles and you will be better off spending cash on them.

Also, these routes will also lose their business class product for a ScootBiz service instead, which is really more a premium economy product.

The other bad news is that you will potentially enjoy much lower fares on these leisure destinations. This means that going to places like Wuhan will now be a lot more affordable, given that you are able to mix and match the add-ons you need for the flight.

SilkAir traditionally had kept fares pretty high while offering an essentially a product which I call “budget plus”, given that it only provides check baggage allowance and meals as additional perks, for a much higher fare. 

Where does that leave SilkAir?

With the integration to begin only from 2020, SilkAir has got some time to embark on its refurbishment project it announced earlier this year, to fit the narrowbody Boeing 737s with lie-flat seats and seatback entertainment.

SIA has earlier said that the integration of SilkAir into the mainline will only take place when there are sufficient aircraft being upgraded to the new product.

SilkAir is also currently taking in the new and shiny Boeing 737 MAX 8s, although it remains to be seen whether they will be delivered in the SilkAir livery or in the Singapore Airlines colours.

SilkAir also has a small number of A319s and A320s, which it said it will phase out in time.

After the 17 routes are transferred to Scoot, that will leave Scoot with 32 destinations in 14 countries. Of the 32 destinations, 10 are currently served by SIA, so you are only looking at an additional 22 destinations that will be added to the SIA network after 2020 as well.

While this is the largest lot of destinations to be transferred, I won’t be too certain as to whether SIA will do another round of transfer before the sunset of the SilkAir brand.

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