Singapore Airlines has confirmed that it has formed another alliance, this time with Air New Zealand in a move that will bolster the Kiwi carrier’s position on routes in the Asia-Pacific.
The tie up between Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand – two of Virgin Australia’s three largest shareholders – will also step up pressure on Qantas in the world’s fastest growing travel market.
Confirming reports by Fairfax Media, Singapore Airlines said today in a statement that the deal with Air New Zealand was another example of its commitment to the south-west Pacific market.
“This is a genuine win-win partnership, enabling Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand to work together to provide more frequency and enhanced travel options to our customers," Singapore Airlines chief executive Goh Choon Phong said.
The alliance comes in the wake of Singapore Airlines sealing a deal to set up a full-service airline in India. The tie up with Air New Zealand will result in Singapore Airlines flying its A380 superjumbos on a daily basis between Singapore and Auckland.
Air New Zealand will also launch daily services between Auckland and the city-state using upgraded Boeing 777 aircraft, taking over five flights operated by Singapore Airlines and adding two more weekly flights.
Subject to regulatory approval, the airlines plan to eventually boost their existing capacity between New Zealand and Singapore by up to 30 per cent. The deal will allow Air New Zealand passengers access to code-share travel on Singapore Airlines flights to destinations in south-east Asia, Europe and Africa,
Singapore Airlines was seen as a logical partner for Air New Zealand, which will take delivery of the first of 10 new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners in the middle of this year. The longer-range version of the Dreamliners will be deployed to destinations in Asia under Air New Zealand’s so-called “go beyond" strategy.
Chinese airlines had also been touted as potential new bedfellows for Singapore Airlines, but it has struggled to cement deals in China or Taiwan.
Both Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines also have extensive code-share alliances with Virgin on routes to Singapore and beyond, and across the Tasman.The New Zealand government reduced its stake in the Kiwi carrier to 53 per cent last month, and the airline is aggressively targeting routes in the Asia-Pacific.
An alliance between Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines will also cement ties between a block of airlines that includes Virgin, and ramp up pressure on Qantas which faces a loss of up to $300 million in the first half.
Qantas is undertaking a strategic review, which includes the potential for a partial sell off of its prized frequent-flyer division, while it waits to hear whether the federal government will grant it a form of financial assistance.
Air New Zealand also formed a strategic alliance with Cathay Pacific last year.