Canberra to get international flights: Singapore Airlines to launch Canberra, Wellington service soon

By @diplomatist10 on
A woman watches as a Singapore Airlines plane prepares to take off, from a viewing gallery in Singapore's Changi Airport September 29, 2015. The 3-hour haze Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reached a high of 245 at 1300 SGT (0500 GMT) on Tuesday, according to the National Environment Agency. Slash-and-burn agriculture in neighboring Indonesia has blanketed Singapore in a choking haze for weeks. Reuters/Edgar Su

After a long wait of many years, finally, Australian capital Canberra will be getting international flights. This follows Singapore Airlines agreeing to the requests for direct flights between Australian capital Canberra and Singapore, as the first ever international service from Canberra. The service will also connect New Zealand. For the past couple of years, Singapore Airlines was lobbied by the Canberra Airport and ACT Government for a direct service.

According to a report in The Australian Financial Review, Singapore Airlines will soon announce the flights. The four flights in a week will be serviced by an Airbus A330. It will also have a Canberra-Wellington leg to connect with New Zealand’s capital. The report said, Singapore Airlines chief executive Goh Choon Phong will be visiting  Canberra in the third week of January to announce the new service.

It has been five years since Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron told Australian Business Traveller that he expects air services from Canberra “flying across the Tasman to both Auckland and Wellington by the end of 2012, and I think it’ll be in the first quarter of 2013 that we'll see one of the airlines commence services to Singapore.”

Byron also reasoned that the Canberra flights are viable as there was good demand for outbound travel to Singapore and other Asian cities.

“The travel industry and the packagers and sellers are very interested in a new product that really fits the market very well,” Byron said.

Upgrades in Canberra

Canberra airport is ready to receive international flights. Among the recent upgrades at the airport include an exclusive 'international terminal' zone with space for customs, immigration and quarantine facilities.

For international flights, Canberra’s infrastructure also includes adequate departure lounges and aerobridges capable of switching from a domestic function to international mode. Of the 14 boarding gates, two will be used for international flights and six more international boarding gates will be created.

More carriers soon

Meanwhile, aviation industry expert Hans Mitterlechner said if one airline makes a debut in Canberra, others will follow suit.

“There's a 'me-too' effect in aviation. If someone does it and the service is maintained for some time then the assumption would be for the others that this airline makes money. If that's the case, it's easy to prove the business case to a second and third airline to do this,” he said.

"For Canberra's international market development, it has to be a non-Australian company that goes in there. If someone is in the first place, it might be easier to develop a more comprehensive proposition there," he added, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

Aviation expert Ben Sandilands noted the need for more hotel accommodation in Canberra for making it a “very attractive gateway to the China market.”

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