Scoot hopeful to increase seat capacity by year-end

Scoot hopeful to increase seat capacity by year-end

Scoot's Pikachu Jet TR, a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner featuring a Pikachu livery, created in collaboration with the Pokemon Company.
Scoot's Pikachu Jet TR, a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner featuring a Pikachu livery, created in collaboration with the Pokemon Company.

Scoot, the low-cost subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, is hoping to increase its seat capacity to 80% of the level recorded before the Covid-19 pandemic by the end of the year, before adding more flights to match or outpace previous levels in the first half of 2023.

Leslie Thng, chief executive of Scoot, said the carrier's capacity last month showed good signs of recovery as it reached two-thirds of the pre-pandemic level. He said this means it is possible that seat capacity could reach 80% by year-end.

"Covid-19 affected all airlines, both full-service and low-cost," said Mr Thng.

"What we have seen is travel demand coming back strongly as long as borders are reopened and travel restrictions lifted."

Scoot recorded a dramatic surge in demand since April this year with load factor consistently increasing on a monthly basis.

In July, its load factor hovered around 80%, which was similar to the level recorded before the pandemic.

He said soaring travel demand on Scoot flights derived from travellers who were making more frequent trips after not being able to travel overseas the past two years.

"Before the pandemic, customers mostly travelled once every six months or once a year. During this period, they were making more short trips every weekend or on long weekends," said Mr Thng.

Given the promising outlook, Scoot expects to return to normal or even exceed previous levels of expansion within the first or second quarter of 2023, he said.

Mr Thng said Thailand, which the airline had been flying to and from over the past decade, remains an important market for Scoot.

Since April 2022, Scoot resumed all flights to Thailand, covering five destinations comprising Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Hat Yai.

"With the relaxation of travel restrictions, we have seen our flights from Singapore to Thailand do very well," he said.

"We increased our frequencies to Bangkok from three daily to four daily flights, while adding services to Phuket, up from 14 to 16 flights per week."

Scoot also saw increasing demand from passengers from other countries who transit at Singapore Airport, continuing on to Bangkok or Phuket.

In addition, many Thais visit Singapore for holidays, said Mr Thng.

To attract passengers and celebrate its 10-year anniversary, Scoot partnered with the Japan-based Pokémon Company to launch the Pikachu Jet, the first airline within Asean and outside of Japan to have an original Pokémon-themed livery.

The jet features themed in-flight amenities and experiences, including Pikachu-related merchandise.

The agreement is for two years and there is no charge for copyright.

The first flight for the Pikachu Jet TR, a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with a capacity of 375 seats, is set to take place on Sept 9 to Tokyo, after which it will fly to Seoul on Sept 27.

Fixed routes for the Pokémon-themed flights will rotate every 2-3 months, he said.

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