David Lim, General Manager- India, shares his perspective on India market.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group which along with SilkAir and low cost arm Scoot connects 14 points: Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmadabad, Kochi, Trivandrum, Trichy, Coimbatore, Vizag, Lucknow, Kolkata and Amritsar - in India is bullish over its India operation. SIA is inducting B787-10 on New Delhi – Singapore route from October 2018.
You are going to induct new aircraft on Delhi-Singapore route from October 28. Could you please tell us more about it?
We are inducting B787-10 Dreamliner on Delhi – Singapore route. We are the first to fly this aircraft. It is a longer version of the Dreamliner. With this, we will have two flights daily by B787-10 and A-380 from Delhi. Currently also we have two flights. The first flight is by B777 which is being replaced by B787-10. The capacity by the replacement increases by 28 per cent. However, holistically it increases by 10 per cent. This aircraft has a capacity of 337 seats – 301 in economy and 36 in business class. The product in business class and economy class is the best in the market.
Have you exhausted your bilaterlas?
We have around 35,000 weekly seats for the SIA Group. We are operating almost full capacity in metros. We are increasing our Ahmadabad service from four weekly flights to five from this winter. We have also been increasing capacity in Kochi, Trivandrum and Vizag. We are increasing in tier –II cities as much as we can. Regarding bilateral, there is unlimited capacity for 18 points in India.
How is the performance in India market?
We are happy with the performance in India. Singapore Airlines has always placed high emphasis on India market as India is an important market for us. We are in India since last 48 years. We started with Chennai and thereafter we have been growing. As Indian aviation market is the third largest in the world, we want our share in this growth.
We do not disclose our route occupancy but at the system-wise occupancy, we are at 84 per cent. As far as yield is concern, we are full service carrier and we offer very attractive price point to start with and so far the prices have been stable for us. We see the weak rupee but in terms of rupee we are not reducing the price. Our business class is also performing well.
Vistara is also going to start its international operation. How is this going to further strengthen your position in India?
We treat Vistara as an Indian carrier. Vistara has been growing and bringing a new feeling of flying in India. Vistara and Singapore Airlines will benefit each other. We have reciprocal lounge arrangements, code share and frequent flyers.
How do you see the travellers profile changing over the years from India?
We have a good mix of business and leisure travellers. Leisure travelers are increasing as there is more and more middle income group traveling from India. We also see that Indian travelers are today more sophisticated. We invest in our products. Our cabin products have been constantly changing and improving. We look at good price point for India market. We always have been trying to provide the best service to our customers.
What upgradation in terms service you have implemented in last couple of years?
For Indian market, we came out with Ruchi Thali in last one year. Ruchi Thali is our Indian ethnic meal for business class travelers. We are launching our outer long range aircraft on October 11. We are flying A 350 -900 outer long range from Singapore to Newark. It will fly for nearly 19 hours. We have good cabin products and came out with wellness menu.
What percentage of your Indian outbound traffic goes beyond Singapore?
We are now getting stronger to the US. We started Singapore-San Francisco service two years ago and we have been very happy from the contribution from India. It depends on the travel season. During holidays, the percentage goes up. There is a fare proportion of Indians that go to Australia, New Zealand and other parts of Asia. We offer choice for customers to use SIA to go to west coast as well.
How do you view competition?
Competition is nothing new for us. We have been taking competition head on. We have always been coming out with product innovation. We deal with competition by having a better product and we always focus on improving ourselves. Our focus has always been on service excellence and we constantly improve our connectivity.
What are the challenges that you are facing in the India market?
Indian customers are becoming more sophisticated and they are more demanding. They want good value for money. So, we have to manage and constantly improve our service and product to meet their expectations.