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