Singapore Airlines (SIA) appears to be fighting a rearguard action against competition on its largest remaining Middle Eastern route, Singapore-Dubai.
The only two carriers to operate direct services on the Singapore-Dubai route are Emirates Airline and SIA, according to FlightMaps Analytics.
In 2005, SIA provided 168,000 seats on the route, for a capacity share of 32%, analysis of route data provided by Capstats shows. Emirates, meanwhile, provided 363,000 seats that year, accounting for a 68% share.
Singapore-Dubai capacity share, November 2013
By 2013, SIA’s share of the route as measured by capacity had dropped sharply – this, despite Dubai also acting as the airport through which SIA routes both inbound and outbound Cairo traffic.
For 2013, SIA’s capacity on Singapore-Dubai will be just 153,000 seats, compared with Emirates’ share of 454,000. This gives SIA just 25% of overall capacity on the route.
As for Cairo, SIA formerly operated this as a Singapore-Dubai-Cairo-Singapore route. It has abandoned this in favour of operating all its Cairo services through Dubai.
Moreover, Capstats indicates that the carrier ceased using Boeing 777 aircraft for Cairo services in October 2012, when it switched to smaller gauge Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
Schedule and aircraft changes have seen SIA’s inbound capacity to Cairo halve from 80,700 seats in 2009 to 42,300 seats in 2013. SIA’s retreat from Cairo likely stems from the global financial crisis in 2009, followed by widespread political unrest in the Middle East in recent years. It is feasible that SIA will begin to question the viability of this destination.
Should SIA abandon Cairo, this would be on the heels of Abu Dhabi, which it ditched in October 2012, and Kuwait City, which it also ceased in October 2011 following just two years of service.
Aside from Dubai and Cairo, SIA’s only other Middle Eastern route is a direct service to Riyadh, to which it operates 13 services monthly with A330-300 aircraft, according to FlightMaps Analytics. Its only rival on the route is Saudi Arabian flag carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines, which operates 777-200ERs eight times monthly.
As for the Singapore-Dubai route itself, SIA has some advantages, namely its ability to channel southeast Asian labour bound for the Middle East through its Changi airport hub, and business travellers in Singapore who need to reach Dubai.
Nonetheless, SIA will continue to be pressured on the Singapore-Dubai route, with Emirates steadily increasing capacity through the introduction of A380 aircraft on the route, offering Singapore-based passengers onward access to its galaxy of European and African destinations.