The Asian aviation industry is booming. While the American and European markets are still in a somewhat fragile state, Asia has seen a sharp increase in air travel, especially among budget travelers. Carriers in Asia are seeing an increase in middle-class business travelers demanding low-cost travel options. Expecting that the market will continue to improve, airlines are popping up in Asia with a new model: low-cost carriers flying long-haul routes.
Following in the footsteps of flailing Air Asia X, the newest air carrier to emerge is Scoot, a low-cost carrier flying under parent company Singapore Airlines.
Scoot entered the Asian market with a focus on low-cost, high-frequency long-haul routes marketed to middle-class citizens.
Appearing to be following the well-known business model of Southwest Airlines, Scoot emphasizes a fun, positive customer experience without the bells and whistles. The airline shows off unconventional marketing tactics and operations such as quirky marketing videos, casual uniforms, and an informal website. Southwest Airlines and Ryanair passengers know this model well; the only difference is that Scoot flies mid-range and long-haul flights instead of short-distance flights.
Routes and Launch Plans
Asia and Australia served as the introductory countries for Scoot routes, followed by India, Africa, and Europe.
Scoot's inaugural launch was in June 2012. Its first route was a direct daily route from Singapore to Sydney. Future routes would include links to Gold Coast, Queensland, and China from Singapore. Other destinations, such as Taipei, Tokyo, and Bangkok were added later on.
Launching in the new Boeing 777-200, Scoot acquired its first aircraft from parent company Singapore Airlines. The airline reconfigured the 777s with a new seating arrangement and a bright yellow eye-catching color scheme, only to decide to use the Boeing 787 Dreamliner later.
The airline also ordered 20 Boeing-787 aircraft to replace the Boeing 777s.
Scoot has three fare structures: Fly, FlyBag, and FlyBagEat. The least expensive and most simple of these is Fly, which includes nothing but the seat itself. The FlyBag package includes up to 15 kilograms of checked luggage, and FlyBagEat includes 15 kilograms of checked luggage plus a hot meal.
Scoot also offers business class seating called ScootBiz, to include leather seats with extra width and legroom. ScootBiz passengers also receive more luggage allowance, food and drink, and other premium services.
Additional a-la-carte and buy-onboard services are also available, and Scoot has plans for onboard entertainment as the airline progresses.
Scoot unofficially announced via a social network site that the introductory fare would be $250 for the first promotional one-way tickets to Sydney, Gold Coast or Singapore.
There are always skeptics, and those that think Scoot will fall short of their goals say that the low-cost, long-haul plan is a bad one. First, it could take business away from the parent company, legacy carrier Singapore Airlines, who could offer the same routes in the same aircraft for a slightly higher fare. Second, many people believe that the demand for low-cost long-haul flights is not enough.
One thing is for sure: There is a growing middle-class and business class in Asia that will likely take advantage of budget carriers. Which airlines are successful at the low-cost, long-haul model will depend on many factors, making even the most educated of predictions difficult.