Indian travellers are increasingly opting for Singapore Airlines' non-stop services to Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York from Singapore, says David Lim, the airline's general manager, India. In an interview with FE's Mithun Dasgupta, Lim says the airline, which is nearing 50 years of operations in India, aims to maintain a young fleet that allows for increased operational efficiencies. Excerpts:
Singapore Airlines has commenced its Airbus A350 services from three Indian cities-Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata. The airline has introduced the luxurious aircraft, replacing Airbus A330. What are the reasons behind it? Why has firstly these three cities been selected?
Singapore Airlines aims to maintain a young fleet that allows for increased operational efficiencies as well as catering to the travellers' current needs. Currently, the average age of our fleet is six years and four months. In line with this commitment, the airline has a firm order of 67 Airbus A350 and 49 Boeing 787-10 aircraft, which will progressively replace our existing Airbus A330 and Boeing 777-200 aircraft. We review each sector based on operational needs and market demand; based on which the most suitable aircraft is deployed on the route.
What are your plans on expanding Airbus A350 services from other Indian cities?
We have no immediate announcements to make.
How has the airline's operations been growing in India in terms of revenue and air traffic? What are your business growth plans here for the next two-three years? Going ahead, how many new international flights are the airline expected to offer?
The SIA group, which includes Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and low-cost arm Scoot, offers over 140 weekly services from India to Singapore. Globally, we connect to 62 destinations in 32 countries and territories.
Singapore Airlines is nearing 50 years of operations in India and the market has shown positive growth through these years. With our recent non-stop services to Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York from Singapore, Indian travellers are increasingly considering travelling west through the east. Our next non-stop route to Seattle will be a destination that will excite the Indian market.
What are the challenges and opportunities for Singapore Airlines here with respect to the growth of the airline's network and business? Will it reschedule any flight for operational efficiencies?
All airlines need to be nimble to match their products and services to the market requirements. We have in the past rescheduled flights to take into consideration seamless connectivity to onward destinations and avoiding weather delays. Singapore Airlines has completed over 72 years of operations globally and has stayed true to three pillars-service excellence, product leadership and network connectivity; while effectively managing operational costs.
You have a tie-up with leading food solution provider SATS to provide customers with a unique taste experience. What are your plans ahead to enhance passenger experiences in order to widen customer base?
On the F&B (food and beverages) front, we are looking to bridge the gap between on ground and inflight dining. Additionally, more focus is given to sustainability initiatives like the "farm to plane" concept as well as engaging with local communities to source produce.
Weekly, how many flights SilkAir operate from India? Any plan to change the number of flights this year?
SilkAir offers 44 weekly services to Singapore from India. We will look to add capacity based on seasonal demand.