Singapore Airlines will begin direct flights between Canberra and Singapore from September 20, with an initial schedule of four flights per week on a Boeing 777.
The 'Capital Express' route will also include a Canberra-Wellington leg in the first direct service linking the Australian and New Zealand capital cities.
Virgin Australia will codeshare on both the Canberra-Singapore and Wellington-Canberra legs, and Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong indicated that its Star Alliance partner Air New Zealand would add its own NZ codeshare onto the flights before their launch.
The first leg of flight SQ292 will depart Wellington at 8.15pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, to arrive into Canberra at 10.05pm. After a brief refuelling stop, SQ292 will be wheels-up again at 11.30pm for a 5.50am arrival into Singapore the following day.
The SQ291 return journey will leave Singapore at 11pm on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, to reach Canberra at 8.35am the next day, continuing to Wellington for a 3.05pm arrival.
The Boeing 777-200 will carry 38 business class passengers in ‘angled flat’ seats…
… while up to 228 passengers will settle for economy.
"We are excited about the prospects for our new Capital Express route, which we are confident will appeal to leisure, government and corporate travellers," said Singapore Airlines CEO, Mr Goh Choon Phong.
Tickets for the new Capital Express service will go on sale from January 25 with business class fares starting from $3,166 return for Canberra-Singapore and $1,450 return for the Canberra-Wellington leg, with economy pricing at $650 and $469 respectively.
Canberra Airport’s recent redevelopment created an 'international' zone within the terminal with space set for aside for customs, immigration and quarantine facilities, while food outlets and cafes will be open by the time the Singapore Airlines flights begin.
Flights will depart from gates 6 at the western end of the terminal, near the Virgin Australia lounge, where the departure lounge and aerobridge will switch between 'domestic' and 'international' modes.
Business class passengers and top-tier members of Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer, AirNZ’s Airpoints and Virgin Australia’s Velocity frequent flyer schemes will have access to the nearby Virgin Australia domestic lounge before their flight.
Singapore Airlines is also considering creating a 'premium area' with dedicated seating near the departure gate.
Long road to Singapore
Representatives of Canberra Airport and the ACT Government have long been lobbying Singapore Airlines as a desirable premium partner.
"With Singaporeans, there’s an 86 per cent of re-visitation [rate] to Australia, but they’re looking for something new" Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron (below) noted in 2014, adding that there was also clear demand for outbound travel to Singapore, other Asian cities and onward routes.
"The travel industry and the packagers and sellers are very interested in a new product that really fits the market very well," Byron said at the time.
"With Singaporeans, there’s an 86 per cent of re-visitation [rate] to Australia, but they’re looking for something new."
"The travel agents are saying Canberra is the something new and it absolutely fits the demographic of nature-based tourism, the adventure activity-based tourism, together with good hotel product and high-quality restaurants and cafes.”
Singapore Airlines’ international flights are the first step in the nation's capital becoming an alternative to Sydney Airport for travellers not just within the ACT but the southern and southwestern centres of New South Wales, including Wollongong.
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.