A Dream Start
Its delivery was delayed a couple of months, but Scoot's first Dreamliner (Boeing 787-9) aircraft – appropriately named Dream Start - was well worth the wait, says features editor John Newton, who was onboard the inaugural Perth-Singapore flight, along with the carrier’s chief executive officer, Campbell Wilson.
The Singapore Airlines low-cost offshoot operated its first commercial Dreamliner flight on the Singapore-Perth-Singapore route this month, with heavy bookings on the advanced fuel-efficient aircraft that boasts wider and higher cabin space, less engine noise, funky mood cabin lighting, larger, electronically dimmable windows, bigger overhead luggage bins and four times the cabin moisture which, according to Scoot, means you’ll arrive fresh and hydrated.
There were more than 350 bums on seats on the Dreamliner’s Perth-Singapore flight which filled up after Scoot offered drastically reduced one-way promotional economy class fares from as little as A$78.70.
Scoot claims its Dreamliner offers more comfort and amenities in the two-class aircraft, including on-board Wi-Fi Internet connectivity and in-seat power is available throughout economy, and 35 in all ‘business class’ seats.
According to Wilson – previously Singapore Airlines general manager Japan - the Dreamliner represents a step-change for Scoot. “It allows us to take our onboard experience to a new level and to greatly expand our network,” he said.
While it’s a tight fit in the 3x3x3 blue fabric economy seat configuration (31-inch pitch and six-inch recline), it has the greatest recline of any low-cost carrier in the Asia-Pacific region. The airline’s ‘business class’ product offers exceptional black leather seat comfort and spacious legroom with 38-inch pitch and eight-inch recline in a 2x3x2 configuration. But don’t expect all the in-flight luxuries as you would on a full-service airline.
“We do not position or advertise it as ‘business class’ as we pitch the cabin more at the economy/premium economy traveller,” said Wilson. “That’s why we only refer to it as a ‘premium cabin’, brand it ‘ScootBiz’ and price it at the full-service carriers’ economy class fare level.
“Our view is that, with the economy rather than business traveller being the principal target, the key selling proposition is the seat width and legroom relative to economy class. These are supported by free IFE and in-seat power – and the inclusion of checked baggage, hot meal and drink. Whilst ScootBiz is comparable to business class on intra-continental services in North America, Europe, Australia etc, we freely admit that we are not seeking to deliver the all-round business class proposition on tier 1 Asian carriers – hence the different branding and positioning.”
In the premium cabin, passengers can select from any of the hot meals on the airline’s website – http://flyscoot.com/index.php/en/in-flight/food-beverage.htm – either at the time of booking or onboard (however, the premium selections meal must be pre-purchased). The meal includes a complimentary alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink (or at another time, if preferred). You pay for additional drinks.
Wilson revealed that while not exclusive to ScootBiz, the carrier is planning to offer Krisflyer members the option of accruing frequent flyer miles, which will commence later this year. “KrisFlyer members may redeem points for travel on Scoot shortly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Scoot’s second and third Dreamliner aircraft will be deployed to Sydney and Gold Coast (as well as Bangkok). All three Australian routes should be fully 787 by the end of May this year. The airline has already announced that Singapore-Melbourne-Singapore will commence from November 15, with more destinations revealed next month, to start operation in June/July, and in June, to start in October this year and January 2016.
Wilson said it was premature to disclose the specific cities at this stage. And Scoot had no plans for flights to Brisbane. “Gold Coast gives us a similar catchment – and a leisure market aligned with our positioning.” Adelaide also is not in the low-cost carrier’s sights.
The Scoot boss added that forward bookings were good, with the premium product proving popular – in particular from Australia, where it attracts “a lot of retirees, self-employed folk or others who would otherwise be travelling economy class and cannot justify the much higher price in legacy airlines’ business class”.
Now that Tiger Air has pulled out of the Perth-Singapore route, Scoot says it will soon be steadily increasing frequency to daily from the West Australian capital to the Lion City.
Later this year, the airline will have a fleet of 10 twin-aisle Dreamliners, originally ordered by parent company Singapore Airlines. They’ll include 10 B787-9s and 10 B787-8s.
‘Let’s get outta here – it’s time to Scoot’ is the catchcry you’ll hear from a Scoot flight attendant as the aircraft pushes back from the terminal.
With its consistently low fares on its growing network ex – Australia, Scoot has grabbed a large slice of market share. The introduction of an all-Dreamliner fleet should see its popularity soar, as long as prices don’t shoot up.
Check out all flights and deals: http://www.flyscoot.com/index.php/en/