Singapore’s Changi Airport has seen strong passenger growth of late, but theÂ city-state’s flag carrier, Singapore Airlines (SQ), isn’t content to simply seek domination at home. The carrier is in the middle of a push to take its services to more distant parts of the world via so-called fifth-freedom flights. These allow an airline to tack on a leg between two foreign countries as an extension to a flight from its home hub. SQ’s focus: transatlantic travel between Europe and the Americas. In a recent example, the Italian government has granted SQ rights to fly between Milan and New York as an add-on to its existingÂ Singaporeâ€“Milan services.
The airline’s original transatlantic service, from New York’s KennedyÂ airport to Frankfurt, has been around for yearsâ€”a vestige of the days when New York to Singapore nonstop was a technical impossibility. That flight has long been a go-to option for savvy travelers seeking Asian-airlineÂ quality on the opposite side of the globe. But in recent years, SQ has also begun a Moscowâ€“Houston run, and in early 2011 itÂ followed that up with a Barcelonaâ€“Sao Paulo flight. In both cases, the strategy is simple: exploiting underserved markets, increasing passenger feed toÂ Singapore, and picking up passengers across the Atlantic, where SQ’sÂ reputation gives it an edge over many existing carriers.
Though a launch date for Singapore’s Milanâ€“New York service has yet to be announced, the prospect will likely have incumbent carriers already on the routeâ€”including Alitalia, American, Delta, and Unitedâ€”fearing for their long-held market share. â€”Gabriel Leigh