Singapore Airlines Resumes Flights After Mysterious ‘Regulatory Reasons’

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  • Singapore Airlines will resume flights to three Chinese cities from April 22nd after a three-week hiatus.
  • Potential reasons for suspensions include regulatory requirements and capacity constraints.
  • Flights will initially run five times a week, with the aim of switching to daily services later on.

Singapore Airlines will resume flights to the Chinese cities of Chongqing, Chengdu, and Xiamen starting April 22nd, following a three-week hiatus.

The suspension, which lasted from March 31st to April 21st, was attributed to “regulatory reasons,” according to a Singapore Airlines spokesperson on Monday, April 1st. However, the spokesperson did not provide any further details.

Three routes to resume

Photo: Su Wu / Simple Flying

Before the suspension, Singapore Airlines offered daily services to Chengdu and Xiamen, with three weekly flights to Chongqing. CNA reports that upon the resumption of flights to these three cities, scheduled services will commence with five weekly flights from April 22nd to April 28th. Subsequently, the frequency of daily services will be increased, according to the airline.

Potential causes for interruption

The recent suspension parallels a similar occurrence last year when Singapore Airlines ceased flights to five cities, including Chengdu, Chongqing, and Xiamen, resuming services to those cities on November 26th, 2023.

Aviation analysts cited several potential causes for the disruptions, such as regulatory requirements for airport time slots.

While authorities have refrained from disclosing any official explanations for the suspensions, Singaporean news agency CNA referred to insights from aviation analyst Brendan Sobie, who suggests a connection to Singapore Airlines’ acquisition of SilkAir in 2021. Previously, SilkAir held the rights and slots for the Chongqing and Chengdu routes.

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A350 on an airport apron.

Photo: WeChitra | Shutterstock

Sobie highlighted the complexities of slot transfers, particularly concerning China’s stringent regulatory requirements. He further noted that slot approvals are not permanent and require reapplication, a process further complicated by limited slot availability at many airports. He also emphasized that obtaining regulatory approval from all countries involved in such transfers is necessary, and the process can be lengthy.

In other words, a potential reason Singapore Airlines announced the suspension of flights to Chongqing and Chengdu in April is because Singapore Airlines wanted to inherit SilkAir’s flight slots. However, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) believes Singapore Airlines must reapply for time slots. Yet the newly applied-for time slots only consist of early morning slots available for Singapore Airlines, which Singapore Airlines believed that these slots did not meet their standards. In response, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore began to block Sichuan Airlines’ requests for additional flights.

Upcoming arrangements

While Singapore Airlines’ website indicates flights to Chongqing are available from late April to October, flights between Singapore and Chengdu are scheduled until late May. Flights to Xiamen are also available during the same period.

Regarding the duration of flights to these cities, a Singapore Airlines spokesperson mentioned that schedules will be updated accordingly, indicating the airline’s commitment to working closely with authorities to adjust its network and capacity to China.

According to Singapore Airlines’ website, for the week of April 1st to April 7th, the airline continues to operate a total of 70 flights from Singapore to four cities in mainland China (35 to Shanghai, 14 to Beijing, 14 to Guangzhou and seven to Shenzhen), reflecting its ongoing efforts to serve this crucial market.

Do you think Singapore Airlines is entitled to inherit SilkAir’s time slots at Chongqing and Chengdu? Please share your thoughts with Simple Flying.

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