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Asian carrier Singapore Airlines is to switch the stopover point of its existing flight between its Changi International Airport hub in Singapore and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston from Moscow to Manchester, a latest update of its flight inventory has shown. With effect from October 30, 2016 the flight will operate via Manchester Airport in northwest England rather than Domodedovo Airport in the Russian capital.
Singapore Airlines has been considering a plan to significantly expand in the UK market by growing its activities at Manchester Airport for the past six months. In a formal request to Airport Coordination Limited (ACL), the body responsible for slot allocation, schedules facilitation and schedule data collection at Manchester, Singapore Airlines earlier this summer requested to potentially double its operations at Manchester with two arriving and two departing flights each morning.
The airline, which is not known for making generic slots requests, revealed plans to change is daily Singapore via Munich to a Singapore direct which continues onward westbound, according to the ACL documentation. This created two flights per day as the flight returns eastbound the next day with both aircraft on the ground together in the morning.
The latest update of its winter 2016/2017 inventory now partly confirms this, although the schedule shows that the Singapore - Manchester - Houston flight will operate on a five times weekly schedule for winter 2016/2017. This is the same frequency that is currently flown on the existing Moscow routing, which was launched in summer 2008. It is expected to grow to a daily schedule in the future, perhaps as early as summer 2017.
As the request noted, Singapore Airlines currently serves Manchester on a daily basis via the German city of Munich, a routing it has operated since the start of the summer 2010 schedules. Before that it had operated a daily non-stop flight between Singapore and Manchester, but frequencies reduced during the late 2000s ahead of the switch to the tag operation.
The existing flight operates as ‘SQ327/328’, but it now appears it will switch the Manchester service to ‘SQ051/052’ as the airline reroutes its existing Transatlantic connection to Houston. This is likely due to falling demand in and out of the Russian market during its current economic crisis and the growing stature of Manchester within the global market. The airline's Singapore - Moscow Domodedovo service will from this winter operate as 'SQ361/362' and will reduce from a five times weekly to four times weekly schedule.
Elsewhere in Europe, it appears that Singapore Airlines' existing Singapore - Munich - Manchester service will now operate as a terminating service in the Bavarian city and will be served using Airbus A350XWB equipment. The airline also may no longer serve Barcelona directly from Changi International Airport but link the Spanish city with flights into Milan Malpensa Airport in Italy.
Singapore Airlines is the longest serving long-haul international airline at Manchester Airport and celebrated the 30th anniversary of its flights between Singapore and Manchester earlier this year. It originally served the route in 1986 on a twice weekly basis offering just 500 seats a week each way; a number that it could be carrying each day if it proceeds with its plans to grow its Manchester presence.
"The new Manchester-Houston flights represent Singapore Airlines' first ever transatlantic flights departing the UK and a huge milestone in our 45 year history flying from this market," said Sheldon Hee, general manager UK and Ireland, Singapore Airlines.
It is also a very different environment at Manchester Airport to the facility Singapore Airlines first served three decades ago with Cathay Pacific Airways and most recently Hainan Airlines now also providing links to China and its territories, while the big Gulf carriers of Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, as well as Turkish Airlines are also filtering heavy flows of traffic in and out of Asia via their respective hubs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Istanbul.
Singapore Airlines is currently in the middle of updating its online inventory so look out for updates to this story.