Scoot mulls having crew bunks in planes

Singapore Airlines' long-haul budget arm Scoot is considering having air crew bunks in its future planes, signalling an intention to operate flights to as far as Europe and Africa.

Currently, Scoot's Boeing 787s do not have crew rest areas because these are not required for flights of up to about 10½ hours. Its longest flights between Singapore and Australia are about eight hours.

Crew bunks are being considered but no decision has been made yet, chief executive Campbell Wilson told The Straits Times yesterday. He acknowledged, though, that the time was right for Scoot to consider spreading its wings further.

In the close to four years that the airline has been operating, it has built up a good network, serving key cities in Australia, China and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, he pointed out.

Across the SIA group, there is also now better integration between Scoot and the parent carrier, as well as with regional arm SilkAir and the group's short-haul budget arm Tigerair, he said.

"All of these developments are key prerequisites to being able to fly farther and, with them falling into place, we are certainly exploring the capacity to fly farther. Crew bunks will be necessary to do so, but we have not yet made a final decision on whether to fit them... and where an aircraft with crew bunks would be deployed to."

He added: "We should come to a landing on this in the next few months."

Route additions and expansion, including whether to fly to Europe and elsewhere, will be done in collaboration with SIA. Mr Wilson said: "If there is any overlap, it is arbitrated. In this case, I think it would be complementary to the SIA group and the Singapore hub, so I think it's good news for all."

If Scoot's expansion happens, consumers will benefit from more choices and competitive fares.

To support its expansion plans, Scoot, which currently has 10 B-787s in its fleet, will take delivery of two more of the jets this year and another four next year.

By early 2019, it expects to have 20 planes, after which, the airline will have no more jets on order.

There are no plans at this time to make another aircraft buy, Mr Wilson said. Switching to the B-787s has proved a good move for Scoot, which reported its maiden $18 million operating profit in the October- December quarter, reversing a $17 million loss from a year earlier.

The aircraft is not only more fuel-efficient than the older Boeing jets that Scoot used to fly, but it is also more popular with customers because the jets are new and offer a more comfortable in-flight experience, Mr Wilson said.

Karamjit Kaur

This article was first published on February 17, 2016.
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