Flying for the long haul

Laurence Chin, country manager of Singapore for United Airlines, shares with TTGmice about the airline's recent flight addition between Singapore and San Francisco, as well as future United Polaris lounges in Asia-Pacific

How has the response been to United Airline’s direct flight between Singapore and San Francisco?
The performance of the SIN-SFO route has been meeting our original expectations. With the increasing travel demand to Singapore/the US, we decided to introduce a second daily non-stop flight in October as it adds to the current morning departure from Singapore, where customers can choose to depart in the evening.

This allows for more flight schedule choices and ease of travel. We want to provide our customers with more choices of arrival and departure times to fit their travel needs between Singapore and the US’ West Coast and beyond.

How significant is the addition of the flight? And why has it taken so long before United decided to launch the service this month, two years after the inaugural flight?
United Airlines started operating the SIN-SFO route in June 2016. In every market we serve, we continuously review and measure demand and performance. After careful analysis, we were made aware of our customers’ strong desire for alternative departure and arrival times from Singapore to San Francisco.

Is the airline looking to start any more direct flights from other Asian country?
Our immediate focus is to have successful twice-daily SIN-SFO service. United will continue to closely monitor the market and add capacity whenever we see sufficient profitable demand.

Are there any new United Airlines lounges opening in Asia?
The United Polaris experience brings a new level of quality to every aspect of premium cabin travel, from lounge to landing, with a special focus on providing a great night’s sleep inflight. We’ve spent years gathering feedback from our customers, incorporating it into everything from seat design to dining options, and fine-tuning each element of our service to ensure that we’re providing an experience that not only meets customers’ needs, but goes above and beyond.

United Polaris lounge is the only lounge of its kind offered by a US airline to business class customers – featuring custom-designed chairs, private daybeds, spa-like showers and chef-inspired hot meals that are all carefully crafted for our customers’ best pre-flight experience.

The first United Polaris lounge was opened at Chicago O’Hare on December 1, 2016. Next up is the United Polaris lounge at Los Angeles International Airport which is slated to open soon. We also plan to open United Polaris lounges in Hong Kong and Tokyo/Narita after 2019.

What is the percentage of business vs leisure travellers for the routes that United serves between Singapore and the US?
United is a full-service carrier and we are targeting the corporate travel market with the United Polaris business class, as well as the leisure customer. As in any market, the actual mix of business to leisure traffic will vary from month to month. We anticipate there will be balanced demand from both sides of the Pacific for this service.

What other developments or trends have you noticed?
United’s primary market are business travellers, and Singapore is one of the world’s most important business destinations.

The business and social ecosystem in Singapore and Asia is more complex and evolved than ever before, and that means an increased demand for routes that enable hassle-free travel for business and leisure travel.

With the SIN-SFO route, we are able to offer more opportunities and choices for Singapore business travellers.

With Singapore’s goal on becoming a “smart nation”, providing increased connectivity to Silicon Valley is opportune. United has therefore positioned itself with more non-stop services per week to SFO than any other carriers.

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