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Singapore Airlines (SIA) and SAS Scandinavian Airlines have agreed to boost air services between Singapore and destinations in Scandinavia - including the potential to open a new direct flight to the Swedish capital Stockholm. Formalising a Memorandum of Understanding from earlier this year, Rickard Gustafson and Goh Choon Phong the respective Chief Executive Officers of SAS and SIA last week signed a joint venture agreement for the Star Alliance partners to co-operate on existing as well as new flights.
Subject to regulatory approval in Singapore and Europe, the airlines are to participate in joint operations, including the co-ordination of flight schedules and joint sales activities. “Such joint operations are expected to enhance efficiency while giving the travelling public greater choice and flexibility,” according to the airlines.
SIA currently operates three weekly flights between Singapore and the Danish capital Copenhagen. The partnership is expected to lead to growth in air services between Singapore and Scandinavia, and, depending on market conditions, pave the way for a new route between Singapore and Stockholm. No airline currently operates non-stop flights between the two cities, although an estimated 24,000 O&D passengers travelled on the route in the past year, around a fifth flying with Finnair via Helsinki and a slightly smaller share with Thai Airways International via Bangkok.
"We are pleased that the joint venture agreement is now signed and we can proceed with expanding our partnership and thereby also improve the service and benefits for Scandinavian travelers. Singapore Airlines will be a vital part of our Asian strategy and we look forward to jointly explore further growth opportunities in this exciting and important market," said Rickard Gustafson, President and CEO, SAS.
"This agreement is a win-win for SIA and SAS, and benefits our customers by making air travel more convenient between Asia and Scandinavia. We look forward to co-ordinating schedules to enable more seamless connections to points in Northern Europe, as well as Asia and Southwest Pacific, through our respective hubs. When market conditions allow for it we also look forward to expanding frequency between Singapore and Copenhagen, and adding new destinations in Scandinavia," added Goh Choon Phong, CEO, Singapore Airlines.
SIA has been codesharing on SAS-operated flights beyond Copenhagen, to Helsinki, Oslo and Stockholm since December 2010, while SAS has in turn been codesharing on SIA-operated flights between Copenhagen and Singapore as well as on selected flights between Singapore and Bangkok.
Meanwhile, SIA has revealed that “sustained weak performance” will result in the closure of its routes from Singapore Changi to Athens, Greece and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), before the end of this year. The airline has confirmed that it will close the two routes at the end of the Northern Summer schedules with the final services to each destination due to operate on October 26, 2012. “The suspensions are in line with Singapore Airlines' policy to match capacity to prevailing market demand,” it said in a statement.
SIA has been serving the Greek capital since 1972 but the country has been at the centre of the recent eurozone debt crisis which would have had a significant impact on demand on the route. Abu Dhabi was added to the SIA network in 2006 to complement the airline’s existing flights to Dubai, but has failed to prove itself as a standalone destination. The airline will retain links to UAE via Dubai but passengers flying to Athens will have to make connections with other Star Allaince partners.
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