Singapore Airlines brings first class to Canberra on daily flights

Singapore Airlines brings first class to Canberra on daily flights

Singapore Airlines is shaking up its Canberra flights, adding a via-Sydney leg on the way from Singapore and upgrading the aircraft to a Boeing 777-300ER to include first class, lie-flat business class and premium economy from May 1.

Canberra flights will also step up to a daily frequency, but lose the dogleg to Wellington – effectively putting an end to the Capital Express flight launched with great fanfare in September 2016.

In its place comes a new Melbourne-Wellington service, attached to the existing Melbourne SQ247/SQ248 flights, which will be retimed and run four times a week from May 3.

Here's how the schedule shuffle shakes out:

SQ's Singapore-Sydney-Canberra flights

In response to continued low passenger levels on the Wellington-Canberra-Singapore 'Capital Express', Singapore Airlines has refined the route.

Beginning May 3, the new daily SQ288 flight will be a non-stop service from Canberra to Singapore, leaving the Australian capital at 11.15pm to reach Singapore at 5.15am the next day.

The return service, however, adds a one-hour stopover in Sydney – giving Singapore Airlines a fifth daily Singapore-Sydney service, with passengers able to book the Singapore-Sydney leg of the journey without continuing onward to Canberra, if they desire.

They can, of course, also book the entire Sydney-Canberra-Singapore flight if the notion of a late-night departure from Sydney outweighs a much longer journey to Singapore.

While Singapore Airlines isn't permitted to sell the Sydney-Canberra leg as a domestic leg of its own, travellers from Singapore to Canberra can book a stop-over in Sydney as part of their international journey; likewise, passengers headed from Sydney to Singapore can break their journey in Canberra.

SQ288's Boeing 777-300ER will allow travellers to unwind in one of four private first class suites...

... or their choice of 48 business class seats in a passenger-pleasing 1-2-1 layout with direct aisle access for all:

There's also a 28-seat premium economy cabin in a 2-4-2 layout, spread across four rows:

However, passengers travelling from Sydney to Singapore via Canberra will have to make do without a lounge in transit.

There's no lounge at Canberra Airport's international zone, and they won't have access to the Virgin Australia lounge in Canberra Airport's domestic zone, although this will be available to SQ passengers beginning their journey in Canberra.

SQ's Singapore-Melbourne-Wellington flights

With the New Zealand connection shifting to Melbourne, the Victorian capital will gain another direct link to Wellington in competition with Qantas and Air New Zealand.

Running as SQ247/248, the flight changes from the current Airbus A330 – which jets from Singapore to Melbourne and then straight back to Singapore – to a Boeing 777-200 when the service expands to Singapore-Melbourne-Wellington return, but with the same angled-flat 'regional business class' seats in a 2-2-2 layout.

Eligible travellers from Wellington will have access to Singapore Airlines' SilverKris business class lounge while in transit at Melbourne's T2 international terminal.

Additional writing by David Flynn

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

51 comments

  • CityRail

    CityRail

    24 Jan, 2018 11:04 am

    Finally Singapore Airlines is listening to the demands of Sydney passengers of an overnight service ex-Sydney to Singapore, allowing morning arrival into Singapore.
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  • Adam T

    AT

    24 Jan, 2018 03:35 pm

    I’m with you CR. QF used to have (in the good old days) QF31 SYD-SIN with ETA into SG at about 5am and the return QF32 was a day flight back to SYD, ETD ex SG was about 9am-ish from memory. It was a 744 in the day, would also do SIN-LHR.
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  • henrus

    henrus

    24 Jan, 2018 11:10 am

    I didn't see this coming but I'm honestly not surprised. The Wellington flights need to stay in place for a certain number of years (that was the deal when the route launched) and obviously SQ have done the numbers and figured out they can get more traffic on a MEL-WLG then a CBR-WLG.
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  • Tom Wilson

    tommygun

    24 Jan, 2018 11:34 am

    Increases the options for *A pax originating or transiting (e.g. ex TG) Melbourne to N.Z., with huge J comfort improvement over QF/VA/NZ despite angled lie flat. PE available as well. NZ doesn't even do J direct MEL-WLG..
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    24 Jan, 2018 11:38 am

    There's no premium economy on the Melbourne-Wellington flights (only business class, as pictured). PE will be available on the Canberra-Singapore-Sydney-Canberra flights, though.
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  • John Vugts

    Sialia

    24 Jan, 2018 11:55 am

    I wonder if SQ plans on more changes to SYD flights such as SQ211/212 as the outbound from SIN would run at a near identical time to the new flight
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  • aniljak

    aniljak

    24 Jan, 2018 12:08 pm

    Interesting to see if air nz or virgin start Canberra - NZ services now. Singapore airlines have shown there is a market for them if use a smaller aircraft
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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    24 Jan, 2018 12:08 pm

    So now they will have 3 flights mel-sin 15:40, 16:50, 18:25 and similar in the opposite direction with a massive gap either side. Such a shame they couldn't use one of their 772s with the 1-2-1 J cos those angled flat seats are extremely uncomfortable in any position.
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  • LP

    LP

    24 Jan, 2018 01:27 pm

    angled flats are certainly dated and below the standard of the rest of the fleet, but extremely uncomfortable in any position is extreme. Perfectly OK for a short day flight.
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    eamond

  • eamond

    eamond

    24 Jan, 2018 01:57 pm

    Agreed, much better than what we had from TG for years.... One can certainly get some rest on this seat although it is not for 12hr journey.
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  • AJW

    AJW

    25 Jan, 2018 10:30 am

    By rest of the fleet you mean about half their fleet? Because half SQ’s fleet is fitted with the regional config.
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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    25 Jan, 2018 11:40 am

    more like a third of their fleet
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  • AJW

    AJW

    25 Jan, 2018 01:53 pm

    Let’s settle on 3/5ths. 22 A330’s and half the 777’s!
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  • asw

    asw

    24 Jan, 2018 12:34 pm

    Fantastic news for us in CBR. Avoids routing via SYD/MEL for lie-flat Biz, and now a chance to upgrade to F.
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  • P Hanna

    14AspenDrive

    24 Jan, 2018 12:38 pm

    With all the competition from storming Emirates and Etihad, Singapore Airlines is still a 'Great way to fly'. All this from a tiny island nation. Brilliant!
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  • canberraflyer

    canberraflyer

    24 Jan, 2018 12:40 pm

    It means you can book SIN-SYD alone, not that you can only book SIN-SYD
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  • rob01

    rob01

    24 Jan, 2018 01:50 pm

    This is good news, although I hope they don't make changes to SQ211 which is my preferred flight back from Singapore.
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  • JBL

    JBL

    24 Jan, 2018 02:00 pm

    Should be interesting to see how much F demand exists out of CBR
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  • Flavio

    Flavio

    24 Jan, 2018 02:52 pm

    The politicians will be rubbing their hands with glee as to being able to fly F. They are entitled to it arent they
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    24 Jan, 2018 03:00 pm

    No, they're not - federal Ministers are no longer 'banned' from flying first class on work trips as such, but on the condition that the taxpayer doesn't foot the bill (so they're allowed to use their own frequent flyer points or money for an upgrade from the business class fare that the government pays for, but they can't book first class outright, only business class).
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  • xtfer

    xtfer

    24 Jan, 2018 02:12 pm

    While I am annoyed about the loss of the Wellington flight, it makes sense that a smaller plane should run that route... and no doubt we'll hear about that soon.

    The changes for CBR/SIN, however, are welcome. The main complaint from people in CBR on this route was the late run in both directions, and the crappy old 777-200 that they put on it. We'll be flying out of CBR now, instead of catching the A350 from Melbourne.


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  • reeves35

    reeves35

    24 Jan, 2018 02:50 pm

    Are VA codesharing on any of these new SQ services? My guess would be yes.

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  • moa999

    moa999

    24 Jan, 2018 02:54 pm

    With QF shifting A380s onto the SIN route and these changes, one would think yields are going to suffer somewhere
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  • patrickk

    patrickk

    24 Jan, 2018 03:06 pm

    This avoids a plane in Sydney overnight as the curfew at 11pm prevents a late departure and suits Canberrans for connections to almost anywhere on the morning SQ flights. Running a plane empty-ish to Canberra seems odd though. Maybe it avoids having immigration staff at Canberra at that hour. The bean counters would have worked it out.
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  • mcglynp

    mcglynp

    24 Jan, 2018 03:25 pm

    The empty plane to CBR is the cynical price SQ pay to get another slot at Sydney. On the plus side, Passengers starting and finishing in CBR clear immigration in CBR not Syd.
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  • hutch

    hutch

    25 Jan, 2018 03:19 am

    Not sure why you think plane will be empty SYD-CBR.
    There will be some passengers flying to CBR and new pax picked up in SYD heading to SIN.
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  • Merry

    Merry

    24 Jan, 2018 03:14 pm

    Wonderful news! Thank you Chris and SQ! Till now have avoided the direct Changi- Canberra flight because of the timing and 2-2-2 J configuration. a much needed upgrade for a vital route. Just wish it were earlier than May.

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  • patrickk

    patrickk

    24 Jan, 2018 03:17 pm

    A tiny bit of confusion according to Goh head of SQ

    Goh said SIA’s one-stop option via Sydney was still a better proposition than other alternatives in the market.

    “The alternative is that they fly into Sydney internationally and then they change to the domestic terminal and fly out from the domestic terminal to Canberra and I don’t think that is a very good experience for most people,” Goh said.

    “So that little technical stop shouldn’t pose so much of a difficulty for people who understand how it works, it should be a good alternative to the other option.


    BUT


    according to Chris

    'giving Singapore Airlines a fifth daily Singapore-Sydney service, with passengers permitted to book only that leg of the flight rather than continuing through to Canberra'.


    It may well be that Canberra people can use the flight coming back rather than the bus to the domestic terminal and miss the last flight.


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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    24 Jan, 2018 03:26 pm

    Patrick: Passengers can fly from Singapore to Canberra via Sydney, or can fly solely from Singapore to Sydney and end their journey there. The point being that you don't have to fly to Canberra to get on that same flight out of Singapore.
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  • aturnbull

    aturnbull

    24 Jan, 2018 04:03 pm

    This is a very smart move by SQ, and strong in response to QR's entry to the route. They can use SYD traffic to help fill up the plane and provide that overnight service, with better Asian connections, and the CBR pax will get a massive product/frequency upgrade.

    CBR-LON continues 1-stop and is faster than QR's option and on-par with QF's 2-stop option (25.5hrs)

    Inbound from CDG/FRA/MUC/AMS connect well, so you will see a great open-jaw into LHR and out of these places ( avoiding the UK-APD too!)

    I am hoping this paves the way for a 3-4pw CBR-AKL, demand is there for NZ travel and NZ can pickup onward Americas traffic.

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  • Brian Williams

    evilbrian

    24 Jan, 2018 05:41 pm

    Thank God someone has stepped up to the plate to give us decent J service between Melbourne and NZ after EK stop doing it on March 25. I haven't been looking forward to trans tasman travel in a 737.
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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    25 Jan, 2018 08:34 am

    air NZ already operate their proper J service to AKL
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  • sgb

    sgb

    25 Jan, 2018 09:49 am

    my sentiments exactly.
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  • karks

    karks

    24 Jan, 2018 06:01 pm

    Poor effort by Canberra Airport, less than 2 years in and job losses already, International travel to and from Canberra only a short term venture.
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  • patrickk

    patrickk

    24 Jan, 2018 06:47 pm

    Karks there’s now two operators with daily flights to and from Canberra so hard to see where the job losses you refer to are.
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  • karks

    karks

    24 Jan, 2018 06:56 pm

    Wrong, try again.
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  • karks

    karks

    24 Jan, 2018 07:04 pm

    Don't know why I care but it's simple. There will still only be 2 domestic carriers between CBR-SYD, QR and SQ cannot sell seats on these sectors and SQ won't be flying return. Look at what time they fly, they are going to be handled by different ground handlers so fewer hours for cleaners, caterers and those who currently check in those travelling to WLG....getting the picture?
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  • hutch

    hutch

    25 Jan, 2018 03:24 am

    Sorry and your point?
    Keep flying a service that ain't working? I'm glad they gave WLG a go. There can be no guarantees
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  • AJW

    AJW

    25 Jan, 2018 10:35 am

    What’s it got to do with the airport? They don’t fly planes.
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  • karks

    karks

    25 Jan, 2018 06:41 pm

    Some big thing with all the fan fair they came out with last year boasting about the jobs, tourists and other benefits to Canberra. It will be the best domestic airport in Australia soon, that's all that they will offer soon enough. I think I will stick to QF via Sydney to the world, at least I know they will be still doing it next year.
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  • Phillip Maguire

    Felipe

    24 Jan, 2018 08:18 pm

    I do hope that Air New Zealand take up the route from CBR to AKL, allowing the way for much easier "seamless" access to Air New Zealand's network to the Americas. It is a hassle having to go via a domestic connection in Sydney, to fly on to the Americas, sometimes having to overnight at a Sydney airport hotel. Also will allow Canberrans easier access to some of Air New Zealand's Pacific destinations, such as Rarotonga... not lost when dealing with a Canberra winter in July.
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  • Rufus1

    Rufus1

    24 Jan, 2018 08:27 pm

    This is a shame. I've taken this flight several times now, specifically to avoid having to stop in Sydney or Melbourne - and I know plenty who have used it to Wellington. Having to stop in Sydney is a real downer.

    The current timing is terrible for Europe connections - perhaps shifting it slightly to reduce connection times to Europe would have helped it? That said, I was still happy to put up with the long waits in Singapore, simply to avoid connecting in Sydney or Melbourne.
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  • JeCCo87

    JeCCo87

    24 Jan, 2018 08:44 pm

    I thought SQ already has 5 flights daily SIN SYD..
    SQ231, SQ241, SQ211, SQ221, SQ251..

    Adding SQ288 would be it's sixth daily.
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  • Erin Beck

    ErinB

    24 Jan, 2018 10:07 pm

    Upgrading the plane will be a good way to get people to actually use this flight.
    Canberrans are used to transiting in melb/syd/bris, so when the cost is the same flying direct as it is with a stop the older planes start to look a lot less appealing.

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  • Simon Storvik-Green

    SKAirbus

    24 Jan, 2018 11:51 pm

    Crap! I'm booked on the Canberra-Wellington leg in August. I guess I have to be rerouted via Melbourne now? I reckon it will almost be impossible to connect from CBR-MEL-WLG on the same day so will probably mean going the night before. Grrr.
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  • Scott Wilson

    Libertyscott

    25 Jan, 2018 01:52 am

    Pity the WLG-CBR leg is being dropped, I've used it twice in the past year. However, the numbers getting off at CBR have always been few (and the market for people doing business in both cities is small, especially with a service that is not daily). No doubt the 777-300ER will significant enhance the attractiveness of the CBR-SIN service notwithstanding the SYD stop (which the alternatives have anyway). The WLG-MEL service seems suspiciously like a way for SQ to keep milking the subsidy from Wellington City Council for that service, but I would have thought NZ and QF will not be amused. NZ might codeshare on the SQ service, as it doesn't have an AM departure MEL-WLG or a PM one WLG-MEL.
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  • DomorKrug

    DomorKrug

    25 Jan, 2018 01:29 pm

    and yet Adelaide still have that dog of a plane a330 with the angled seats in business....thanks for nothing SIngapore
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  • mo

    mo

    26 Jan, 2018 09:11 am

    Having caught the Canberra - Wellington leg a few times I'm sorely lamenting the loss of our capital express. As I usually fly economy, the newer aircraft and four class layout means nothing to me. The 777-200 seating was fantastic compared to the squeezy 737's that are flown across the ditch.
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  • MelbFlyer

    MelbFlyer

    26 Jan, 2018 09:41 am

    I can see SQ’s forthcoming 787-10 being used on the SIN-MEL-WLG flights pretty quickly
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  • Taylor

    Taylor

    28 Jan, 2018 04:00 pm

    Mel - WLG - ho hum, SQ's First and Business catering etc out of Melbourne is at best average and SQ are known to block out entire sections whilst they decide plane types etc for months on end. A good product going very average and the WLG is just adding a complexity to an existing product that they don't manage well or simply don't care.
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  • Chris McKellar

    krisdude

    29 Jan, 2018 08:51 am

    I have recently flown WLG/CBR in J class and it was a great experience compared to the very basic J class experience MEL/AKL flight on Emirates. SQ J class crew where friendly and professional. Australian Border Force at CBR where more relaxed and friendly compared to SYD and MEL. I can see why SQ has refined their WLG service, as the B772 is being phased out and being replaced by the A350's. Apparently, the A350 wings are to long for the international terminal at WLG. With Air NZ introducing the A320/A321neo's this year, there is a possibly of a Air NZ 321 AKl/CBR/WLG/CBR/AKL operating under NZ/VA/SQ flight numbers or a VA B738 WLG/CBR/WLG with business/premium economy/economy seats operating under VA/NZ/SQ flight number. Virgin has a crew base in Wellington. I thing it might be more like that VA will do, as they can do check in and lounge access using VA facilities at CBR and VA check in at WLG. At least a NZ or VA services can operate daily. At least SQ has established there is a demand on the CBR/WLG/CBR, as my flight WLG/CBR on 26 Jan 18, Y class was almost full and there where 12 in J class. There where a large number from J and Y leaving the flight at CBR.
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19 Nov, 2018 10:24 am

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