First Scoot Dreamliner expected in Nov

SINGAPORE - Budget carrier Scoot said on Monday that it expected the Boeing 787-9, the first of its new fleet of 20 B787s worth US$4.6 billion, to be delivered and begin operations in November this year.

Scoot took over the order from parent company Singapore Airlines (SIA) in late 2011, and converted it so that it consisted of 10 of the larger B787-9 and 10 of the original B787-8. Each B787-8 costs the airline US$211.8 million while each B787-9s costs US$249.5 million.

The first five planes to be delivered will be the B787-9s. Scoot expects to have about nine new aircraft by next year. The B787-9s will fly to Japan, Australia and Taiwan initially and the airline will progressively retire its current fleet of Boeing 777-200s by the middle of next year. Its six B777s were passed down from SIA and have an average load factor of 81 per cent across its 13 destinations.

While Scoot's B777s have a seating capacity of 402, the B787-9s will have 375 seats, and the B787-8s, around 330 seats. Besides improved cabin humidity, passengers will have access to inseat power and wireless Internet connectivity.

With the new fleet, Scoot chief executive officer Campbell Wilson said that customers can expect cheaper airfares. The Dreamliners, primarily made of carbon-fibre composite material, are lighter and more fuel-efficient than similar-sized airplanes.

Mr Wilson said that they would cut fuel costs by about 20 per cent. As fuel costs account for around half of the airline's expenditure, the Dreamliners will bring about some 10 per cent in cost savings.

"We plan to pass some or most of the cost savings on to consumers," he said.

While the airline awaits delivery of its new fleet, he said Scoot will not add new destinations this year. The airline will focus its efforts on partnerships with Tigerair and Nok Air, a low-cost airline based in Bangkok.

He also revealed that Scoot had set aside some $60 million for its tie-up with Nok Air to establish a new low-cost airline, NokScoot, based at Don Muang International Airport. Scoot's retired B777s may possibly go to NokScoot. The initial investment from both parties is around $40 million, and Scoot will have a 49 per cent stake.

Scoot is seeking regulatory approval for the joint venture, but aims to start operations for NokScoot in the second half of this year. It will operate on medium and long-haul international routes, and its destinations will mainly be in North Asia, including China, Japan and South Korea. Scoot's alliance with Tigerair awaits approval from the Competition Commission of Singapore.

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