British Airways commits to Singapore

By Karamjit Kaur | Source: ANN
British Airways (BA) is sticking to Singapore as its hub between London and Australia – despite the decision by its long-time partner Qantas to dump Changi Airport for Dubai.

BA’s new Southeast Asia head Rob Williams said: “This remains the hub for Europe-Australasia for BA. I know for other carriers this is now changing but we are committed to Singapore.”

From Sunday, Qantas will operate its Australia-Europe flights via the Middle East instead of Singapore, as part of a new deal with Dubai-based Emirates.

The move will end 17 years of close ties between “The Flying Kangaroo” and BA, which had existed as a single airline entity in Singapore with a common office and management team.

Williams, who moved to Singapore earlier this month, told The Straits Times: “Our key hub is London and in terms of the flying that we do to Australia, we operate through Singapore. We always have and we are very happy with that.”

Business travellers prefer to stop in Singapore, as do leisure passengers, he said, adding: “This just absolutely works for us.”

BA flies twice a day from London to Singapore, which is one of 17 Asian destinations it serves.

On whether there are plans to add more flights on that route to fill the gap when Qantas exits the market, he said: “We’re entering a new phase of our operations here so we will study the market. If there is demand for more capacity, we will put in the capacity.”

After this week, Singapore Airlines will be the only other carrier to operate Singapore-London flights, with three daily services. This will go up to four in October.

Said Williams: “I only want to fill two flights a day at the moment, which is the right amount of flying between our London hub and Singapore. If they (SIA) choose to fill four, that’s fine.”

BA offers a very competitive product, he said, with a four-cabin aircraft that includes the popular premium economy cabin.

The service operates out of Heathrow’s less-congested Terminal5, which Williams claims offers travellers a better experience. He said: “Don’t forget, that when people get there I can take them to a lot more places in Europe and North America very easily with our extensive network.”

BA flies 11 times a day between London and New York – one of 27 North American cities it serves from London.

SIA is a “major player” on the Australia-Europe route and has been increasing capacity in and out of Australia, as well as to points in Europe, said spokesman Nicholas Ionides.

The airline has extended its reach in both markets through partnerships with other carriers such as Virgin Australia and Scandinavian Airlines.

Williams said: “For BA, it’s business as usual out of Singapore to London. But we’re on our own now and the battle is on with other carriers that fly the routes we do.”