Home' Asian Aviation : AAV May 2016 Contents 14 AsianAviation | MAY 2016
ifty years ago the countries of Singapore and
the United States formalised diplomatic ties
when Singapore joined the world of nations,
forging close economic bonds that remain
to this day.
Those bonds were recently on display when
Singapore’s prime minister visited the United States
this year and toured Silicon Valley stalwarts like
Apple, Facebook, Google and Tesla, all located
within a stone’s throw of the northern California
gateway of San Francisco.
The city by the bay has always been a key link
between Asia and the United States and recent
moves by United Airlines will reinforce and strengthen
the city’s role as a bridge to Asia.
United recently announced it would revive direct
long-haul flights between the Lion City of Singapore
and San Francisco to eliminate the need for double-
connection points in Asia-Pacific as United focuses
on beefing up its operations in San Francisco, which
plays a key role in today’s networked global economy.
Marcel Fuchs, United’s vice president for Asia-
Pacific sales, said the San Francisco-Singapore
route was part of United’s expansion plans for the
Asia-Pacific region that includes direct flights from
San Francisco to Xi’an and Hangzhou in China,
Singapore, and Auckland, New Zealand.
United says the new direct route to Singapore will
save flyers up to four hours each way from previously
available services and will be the longest 787 flight
in the world, the longest flight operated by a U.S .
carrier and the only non-stop flight from the U.S. to
Fuchs says San Francisco is a natural gateway
to Singapore specifically and Asia in general
because of the number of business people flying
to visit Singapore’s own high-tech businesses and
because Singapore is also becoming more and more
a gateway for U.S . travellers looking to explore Asia.
“The relationship between Singapore and the U.S.
is very close with the tech space in San Francisco for
example, and it’s been on our list for quite some time,”
Fuchs said. “We’re happy to serve all the corporate
customers in Silicon Valley, the finance customers,
and some of the pharma business, the demand has
been very strong. We’ve been consulting with our
global customers and this has been number one on
the list for some time.”
Fuchs also said San Francisco was a natural home
for the Singapore flight because of the large number
of Asia-Pacific flights originating from the gateway
that would also augment its offers to Japan, New
Zealand, Taiwan and Australia.
“San Francisco is a super hub for us,” Fuchs
said. “We have a large employee base there, a huge
MRO facility, and in total we have about 10,500
employees in the Bay area. We carry in excess of
10 million customers from San Francisco and with
the international terminal and domestic terminal you
can beautifully connect to the rest of the U.S . We
think by shaving off four hours of connection time
to San Francisco that it’s attractive for the business
traveller. Time is money, and for the Asian traveller
it’s good as well.”
Fuchs said that the Asia-U .S. leg was also proving
profitable for United because Chinese and other
Asian travellers were headed to the U.S . in droves.
“The growth of the middle class is fascinating,”
Fuchs said. “We’re seeing double-digit growth from
China and there’s been more than 3 million arrivals
from China and the repeat business is about 48
“The U.S. is an aspirational destination for the
Chinese, and 2016 is the centennial year of the
American national parks so we see a lot of travellers
from China flying to San Francisco, spending time in
Las Vegas for example, and then heading to other
cities. They benefit from the 10-year visa exemption
and the minute you tear down these visa restrictions
then business blossoms.”
Meanwhile, in the United States, United in April
reported a 38 percent drop in first-quarter profit
as higher taxes offset gains from lower fuel prices.
Revenue fell 5 percent and revenue for each seat
flown one mile fell 7.4 percent in the first quarter.
It expects the figure to drop a similar amount —
between 6.5 and 8.5 percent — in the second quarter
compared with a year earlier. ✈
As fuel prices continue to remain low for the world’s airlines, many are bring back to life long-haul routes that take advantage of
new planes, new engines and a renewed interest by passengers eager to cut the time it takes to fly between continents. Asian
Aviation editor Matt Driskill spoke to United Airlines vice president for sales Marcel Fuchs about the carrier’s plans.
United revives direct
Singapore-San Francisco route
Marcel Fuchs, VP
A United 787 Dreamliner will fly
direct to Singapore starting in June.
5/05/2016 7:17:49 PM
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