One of the targets of the Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand alliance could be Emirates, which has significantly boosted its New Zealand-bound capacity in recent years.
That said, the Middle Eastern carrier received not a mention at the 16 January press conference during which the two carriers announced their plans to enter an extensive code sharing and revenue sharing relationship.
Under the deal Air New Zealand will return to the Singapore-Auckland route, initially five times weekly with Boeing 777-200ERs, later upping it to a daily service. SIA will drop some frequencies, but put its Airbus A380 on the route. Ultimately all this should increase capacity between Singapore and New Zealand by 30%.
New Zealand bound passengers will have excellent access to Air New Zealand’s domestic and Pacific network, while Singapore-bound passengers will have access to Silkair’s regional services, and SIA’s long haul services to Europe.
Although it is commonly accepted that Asians adore holidaying in New Zealand, capacity growth on both Singapore-New Zealand and the broader Asia-New Zealand routes has been somewhat lacklustre for some years, according to data from Flightglobal’s Capstats database.
Inbound capacity to New Zealand
But this is not the case on all routes to New Zealand. Emirates, which flies to New Zealand via Australia, has inexorably boosted its capacity to New Zealand in recent years, providing 646,000 seats in 2013.
Examination of tourism arrival data provided by Tourism New Zealand gives some hint as to the real New Zealand tourism market. From April 2012 to March 2013, just 1.4% of the country’s 2.6 million total visitors came from Singapore, and similar small numbers came from countries such as Thailand and Malaysia – the very destinations that are so vital to SIA’s regional Silkair unit.
China sent 8.1% of New Zealand’s visitors, but these are not relevant to the SIA-Air New Zealand deal because of the New Zealand flag carrier’s partnership with Cathay Pacific for China routes.
India, despite its vast population, provided just 1.2%. Owing to the vagaries of the air services agreement between New Delhi and Wellington, no third party codeshares are allowed. Air New Zealand says the governments are working to fix this, however.
Given all this, one can safely assume that Europe is a major part of SIA’s and Air New Zealand’s thinking. The United Kingdom accounted for a full 7.3% of the visitors New Zealand received from April 2012 to March 2013. Germany, where SIA serves Frankfurt, provided 2.5% of visitors.
Moreover, UK and German tourists stay in New Zealand the longest and spend more. UK visitors tend to spend a month in the country, while Germans spend 50 days. UK visitors also have the highest average spend, nearly $4,000 per person. Germans are third, spending $3,000 per person on their trip – Japanese visitors are in second place.
Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon says bringing foreign leisure visitors is the most important role of his carrier.
Providing such passengers an easy one-stop connection in Singapore followed by links to Air New Zealand’s domestic network offers a compelling advantage over Emirates.
UK passengers on the Dubai-based carrier have to stop twice, once in Dubai and once in Australia, before embarking for New Zealand.
Emirates and its Middle Eastern counterparts have been putting serious pressure on SIA’s status as a hub to Europe. Though the Middle Eastern carriers may not have received much mention at the 16 January presser, it’s conceivable that they were very much on the minds of the SIA and Air New Zealand executives.