Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Singapore Airlines announces its new budget airline: Scoot

Long haul low cost flight concept entered our lives in South East Asia by Air Asia X, a franchise of Air Asia, Asia's largest low cost carrier. They currently fly to Europe (Paris, London), Iran, Australia (Darwin, Gold Cost, Melbourne, Perth) and New Zeland from Malaysia and soon will add Beijing, Shanghai, Osaka, Jeddah, and Istanbul to their network. And It is great to hear today that we will soon have cheap long haul flights from Singapore soon. Singapore Airlines have officially announced that their wholly owned budget airline, Scoot, will start operations by mid 2012 with a fleet of four Boeing 777-200 jets.

Singapore Airlines is coming very late to the budget party, and perhaps the biggest strategic miss made by the group was not to see the thread posed by low-cost carriers to its business when Singapore government opened up the space in 2004[2]. Around that time SIA looked more focused to high end market and even tried to launch an all business class flights to USA during the pre-crisis boom times. But now bubble have bursted and boom looks not coming back, budget flight probably be the buzzword for the near future even for the business travellers. It is better late than never.

According to the Campbell Wilson, 40 years old founding CEO of Scoot, the new airliner will not fly on the existing routes covered by SIA and will not compete with SIA's other budget venture, short haul player Tiger Airways. He did not reveal the destinations since they are still in negotiation with airports but he has revealed that there will be flights to China and Australia and they are working on to fly to India, Europe, Africa and Middle East. It is expected that Scoot will offer slightly more expensive tickets compared to Air Asia X and JetStar while having slightly more frills:

"This new airline is a poor man's excuse to fly SIA," said Shukor Yusof, an aviation analyst with Standard and Poor's in Singapore. "It will be like luxury budget. When you're flying 12 to 13 hours, you need to throw in some of the facilities people are used to on intercontinental flights."

Wilson said Scoot will offer two classes of cabin, with economy tickets up to 40 percent less than full-service carriers. Customers will be able to choose seats, meals and baggage options, he said.
"We'll offer many other options so people can customize their experience," said Wilson, a 40-year-old from New Zealand.

The airline plans to eventually buy several Boeing 777-200ER planes, which can travel up to 13 hours, allowing Scoot to fly to Europe and Africa, he said. Scoot also plans next year to hire about 52 pilots, 250 flight attendants and 40 ground staff with what Wilson called "Scootitude."[1]

The name, Scoot, is a very interesting choice for an airliner. It is definitely not a usual airliner name. "Scoot" in English means to go suddenly and speedily. There is a military term named "shoot and scoot" which means you fire an artillery and change position to not be hit back. According to the Free Dictionary the word comes from a Scandinavian verb related to verb shoot. If I am not wrong, Scud, a name given by West to Soviet era ballistic missiles also comes from the same verb.

According to the CEO, this name is chosen for many reasons:

"We chose the name ‘Scoot’ for many reasons, not least because it‘s different. Rather than the tried and tired “airlines” this, “airways” that or “air” yawn, it’s short, sharp and snappy. It stands out. It’s geographically independent, and can be a verb or a noun. Besides difference, it conveys spontaneity, movement, informality and a touch of quirkiness—all attributes we intend this Company to be known for,” said Scoot CEO Campbell Wilson.

“These attributes will be personified in a unique spirit that encapsulates our values and style, and that should be apparent to guests whenever they interact with us. An airline with a different attitude. People with a different attitude. Scootitude.”[2]

The airliner's web site is http://flyscoot.com and currently the web site only offers news and update subscription.

Hope this really works and does not end up like Hong Kong's long-haul budget carrier Oasis which has flew only 2 years. Competition, especially the ones which provides cheaper quality services, are all good news for the consumers.

[1] - SIA introduces 'quirky' budget carrier, Scoot
[2] - Not your usual airline name not your usual airline
[3] - Dog Fight At Changi, Singapore Business Review Jul 31st 2011

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