Singapore Airlines to fly Wellington-Canberra-Singapore service from September
A new Singapore Airlines flight from Wellington to Canberra is expected to cut the travelling time between Wellington and Asia.
From September Singapore Airlines will offer a direct service between the two trans-Tasman capitals four times a week, the first service from anywhere in New Zealand to Canberra.
As well seeking passengers wanting better access to Australia's politicians and public service, the service will target those in the lower North Island wanting to travel to Asia.
Currently anyone travelling from Wellington anywhere in Asia must change planes and often terminals at another airport.
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The Singapore Airlines service aims to have the Boeing 777-200 aircraft on the tarmac in Canberra for less than 90 minutes, with passengers not needing to clear customs.
Backers of the new route said it would be significantly faster than what was currently on offer in the capital.
"You're going to save a minimum of at least an hour and a half for every traveller and that's a great benefit," Wellington's deputy mayor Justin Lester said at the signing ceremony.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the government was committed to liberalising air services into New Zealand, and the Singapore route was exciting for making Wellington closer to Asia.
"This is effectively a direct flight [to Singapore]," Bridges said.
Business leaders quickly seized on the new service, including Weta Workshops boss Sir Richard Taylor.
"Asia is utilising Weta Workshop's creative capabilities more and more, so better connectivity with this thriving region is terrific news for us."
The new 'capital express' service will begin in September, with seats going on sale on January 25. Return flights to Canberra will start from $587 and from $1808 for return flights from Wellington to Singapore return.
The flights will leave Wellington at 8:15pm, landing in Canberra at 10:05pm and in Singapore just before 6am.
Singapore Airlines has been in talks with Wellington for around two years about a route to the Capital, with the airport "gaining traction" about six months ago, Wellington Airport chief executive Steve Sanderson said, when the airline appeared to become convinced by the business case to come to Wellington.
According to Sanderson around 350 passengers a day in the lower North Island want to fly to Asia each day.
Singapore Airlines becomes the only non-trans-Tasman airline to fly to three New Zealand destinations, having been flying to Auckland and Christchurch for decades.
Mak Swee Wah, Singapore Airlines executive vice president commercial, said the airline was committed to flying to Wellington.
"We are committed to the route. There is no better example than the fact that we have been in Auckland for 40 years and in Christchurch for 30 years. Certainly we wouldn't be launching a new service unless we are committed to it."
Wah would not say how much the service relied on Wellington-Canberra demand or Wellington-Singapore other than that it was "a mixture".
The new service comes as Wellington Airport attempts to lobby for central government funding towards extending its runway to allow direct long haul flights.
Wah would not comment on whether Singapore would be interested in direct services to Asia from Wellington, with the service announced today the ideal one for now.
"The future is something else to be considered."
Wellington's political leaders claimed the service boosted the case for the runway. Wellington mayoral forum chair and Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy said a "longer runway would make the business proposition even more attractive for the likes of Singapore Airlines".
Eligible travellers on the service will be able to use Air New Zealand lounges and get airpoints and may eventually be able to book the flights on the Air New Zealand website.
- The reference to A330s been corrected to Boeing 777s