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Japan Airlines to be first to fly Boeing's Dreamliner to Changi

The business-class cabin in JAL's Dreamliner plane. With the aircraft's introduction here, industry watchers said other airlines plying the Tokyo-Singapore route, including SIA, could lose some business. (PHOTO: JAPAN AIRLINES)

Publication Date : 01-10-2012


The dogfight for business on the Singapore-Tokyo sector is set to intensify with Japan Airlines' (JAL) introduction of the Boeing 787 plane from October 14.

This will usher in the first passenger service at Changi Airport using the Dreamliner plane - which can seat up to 300 people - a year after it entered commercial service.

Industry watchers said other airlines plying the Tokyo-Singapore route, including Singapore Airlines (SIA), could lose some business.

SIA spokesman Nicholas Ionides said Tokyo is an important market which it serves four times daily using four aircraft types, including the Airbus 380.

He added: "We compete by offering the highest-quality products and services across an extensive network."

Scoot, the new budget airline launched by SIA to grow its bottom line even as its premium travel business suffers from the euro zone crisis, high oil prices and rivalry from Middle East airlines, also plans to fly to Tokyo soon.

JAL now operates twice daily from Tokyo to Singapore - a flight each from Narita and Haneda airports. From October 28, it will add a third daily flight, departing from Narita, a spokesman said.

The Dreamliner will be deployed to Singapore progressively, starting with several flights a week. By early next year, all three daily Tokyo-Singapore services will be operated using the B-787 aircraft.

The spokesman said fares are decided by the market and "we are not raising fares because of the new aircraft".

A return fare to Tokyo costs more than S$700 (US$570), with all taxes and surcharges included.

Boeing's Dreamliner is the next big thing to hit aviation since the Airbus 380 superjumbo made its commercial debut five years ago.

The first time the Boeing jet landed here was during the Singapore Airshow in February, where it was part of the static aircraft display.

Singapore will be JAL's first B-787 destination in South-east Asia, a spokesman told The Straits Times.

"With the significant efficiencies and quality of flight of this revolutionary jet, we are able to strengthen our competitiveness in this key market by providing our customers greater travel comfort."

The aircraft, touted 20 per cent more fuel-efficient than any other similar-sized jet, also promises a more pleasant flying experience.

The bigger windows let in more light and the air is less dry than in other planes.

Since the air pressure in the cabin is set to that of a lower altitude, this should reduce headaches and other travel-related discomfort, Boeing has said.

SIA, which has ordered 20 B-787s, is expected to get its first in 2014.

Boeing, which has sold more than 800 of the jets, has so far delivered 25 to six airlines.

Given that Singapore is an important market for business travellers and a key regional hub, many full-service airlines deploy new aircraft and technology here, which means more choices for travellers.

Changi Airport is, for example, one of the busiest A-380 hubs in the world with four airlines using the plane - SIA, Air France, Lufthansa and Qantas.

They will soon be joined by Emirates and Thai Airways.


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