Asian long-haul, low-cost operator, Scoot is to expand its offering into Europe with the introduction of flights into Athens International Airport in Greece next summer.
The announcement of the new route follows its recent expansion into India and Saudi Arabia and will support the strong passenger flows between Greece and Asia and provide a new low-fare option between southern Europe and Australia, where Scoot serves the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney from its Singapore hub.
The budget carrier will operate a four times weekly link between Singapore and Athens from June 20, 2017. “Guests have requested us to fly to Europe for a while, and Scoot is excited to finally oblige,” says Lee Lik Hsin, chief executive of Scoot parent Budget Aviation Holdings, which combines the long-haul operator with the short-haul activities of Tigerair.
This marks the return of the Singapore Airlines Group into the Athens market. Full-service carrier Singapore Airlines previously served Singapore – Athens up to summer 2012 with two weekly Boeing 777-200ER rotations in the winter and three return flights in the summer. It resumed a seasonal summer offering in 2014 and 2015 but did not resume flights this year.
Scoot is taking delivery of additional 787-8 Dreamliners and will configure some of its new aircraft in a modified layout for European missions. This will see capacity rise by around 4% to just under 350 seats through a reduction in its Scootbiz cabin and additional rows in Economy.
To maintain utilisation of these aircraft it is expected that Scoot will add at least one further long-haul route into Europe from next summer and could expand further form 2018. Markets such as Italy, Spain and the UK are viewed as potential growth options.
Scoot said the commencement of the service to Europe is part of the Singapore Airlines Group’s strategic move to “stimulate passenger traffic between Asia Pacific and Europe, as well as to boost connectivity through the Singapore hub”. It will be the only non-stop connection into the Asia Pacific region from Athens.
Like many of the European and Asian flag carriers, Singapore Airlines has been hit hard by the rise of the Gulf hub carriers. Having previously held a dominant position in the Athens – Asia Pacific market with its own flights, it has seen its marketshare decline.
Data from AirVision Market Intelligence from Sabre Airline Solutions shows that an estimated 597,000 passengers flew between Athens and destinations across Asia Pacific and Australasia last year with the markets of China (20.9% share) and Australia (18.9%) dominating these flows. Singapore was the sixth largest country market (6.1% share) and Changi International the sixth largest origin and destination airport.
Last year, when Singapore Airlines operated a seasonal schedule into Athens, its share of the total Athens – Asia Pacific and Australasia market was 4.5%, according to the data. This ranked the airline as the sixth largest behind Qatar Airways (30.1%), Etihad Airways (15.6%), Emirates Airline (14.4%), Turkish Airlines (11.0%) and Aeroflot Russian Airlines (6.6%). The Singapore Airlines share of 4.5% is down from a high of 20.3% in 2003.