The premium travel market has come back with a vengeance, according to Subhas Menon the regional head of Singapore Airlines, and that means (hopefully) a solid year ahead for Australia’s tourism industry.
WORDS JAMES WILKINSON
HM: Subhas, how are the Australian operations performing for Singapore Airlines at present on both inbound and outbound routes?
Subhas Menon: Our Australian flights are back on track. Sydney saw the introduction of a second daily A380 daily from the end of October, while frequency has been returned to pre-crisis levels to all ports here. Sales are apace as the strong Australia dollar and the Australian penchant for travel return to the fore.
HM: What are you expecting for the Australian inbound and outbound market for 2010/2011?
SM: Inbound market has not been robust for the same reasons that outbound is robust: a strong Australian dollar and cheaper alternatives around the globe, particularly the USA. However, Tourism Australia’s new campaign to reinvigorate the natural warmth and authentic allure of Australia by using home-grown Australian images is a stroke of genius which resonates in new markets such as Asia and is slowly beginning to turnaround tourism fortunes. Outbound will continue to track ahead.
HM: It is understood that some routes will have upgraded capacity for the upcoming Ashes cricket series – what’s planned?
SM: Capacity at Sydney has been upgraded with the second daily A380.
HM: Similarly, what are you planning for, capacity wise, for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand next year?
SM: We are exploring various options for more capacity between New Zealand and Europe. We prefer a sustained capacity development rather than seasonal increases.
HM: Are you seeing a strong uptake on European flights, particularly London, given the affordability of airfares at present?
SM: Demand to London and Europe are generally not as strong as to and from Asia. Fares are inexpensive but not as much as to other destinations such as the USA which Europe has to compete with. However, the strong Australian dollar keeps demand to Europe still at a decent level.
HM: Specifically, how is the Singapore market performing ex-Australia at present and what are you expecting for 2010/2011?
SM: The market is healthy and will sustain into 2011.
HM: The new Business Class seats are now across on almost all Australian flights. How is the luxury market performing and what’s the feedback been like?
SM: The premium market has come back with a vengeance. Travel that was put-off is again on the agenda for businesspeople and those with a heart and desire for luxury travel.
HM: How is the group bookings / MICE segment performing for Singapore Airlines at present?
SM: The MICE segment is punching below its weight because of many competing offers. However the concerted efforts by Tourism Australia will see this turn around in 2011.
HM: How important is the group bookings / MICE segment for SQ going forward?
SM: It is a growing influence and one we are focusing on with the enhancement of the tourism plant in Singapore with the integrated resorts and Formula 1.
HM: Which will be the key emerging markets for Singapore Airlines for routes into the South West Pacific in 2010/2011?
SM: China, India, China, India, China, India.