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Singapore Airlines Adds Unique Route To Vancouver

It’s now official — after a roughly 12 year hiatus, Singapore Airlines will once again offer regularly scheduled service to Canada.

Singapore Airlines has announced that it will operate 4x weekly flights between Singapore and Vancouver this winter. Specifically, the airline will operate flights from Singapore to Seattle with a stop in Vancouver in each direction, allowing the airline to tap into both markets.

With Singapore reopening to vaccinated travelers, this route makes sense. Eligible travelers need to take a dedicated flight, so there’s probably not enough demand to operate a flight just to Vancouver, but in conjunction with Seattle, it’s much more likely to be successful.

Singapore Airlines returning to Canada

Singapore Airlines discontinued flights to Canada in 2009, when the airline pulled its route between Singapore and Vancouver, which operated via Seoul Incheon. That will be changing shortly.

Singapore Airlines will be launching a new 4x weekly seasonal service between Singapore and Vancouver, which will come in the form of an intermediate stop on a Singapore to Seattle route. The service will operate between December 2, 2021, and February 15, 2022. The flight will operate with the following schedule on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, in both directions:

SQ28 Singapore to Vancouver departing 9:15AM arriving 7:30AM SQ28 Vancouver to Seattle departing 8:40AM arriving 9:30AM

SQ27 Seattle to Vancouver departing 11:00AM arriving 11:45AM SQ27 Vancouver to Singapore departing 1:15PM arriving 10:05PM (+1 day)

The flight between Singapore and Vancouver will cover a distance of 7,967 miles, while the flight between Vancouver and Seattle will cover a distance of just 127 miles.

This means that for the winter, Singapore Airlines will operate its Singapore to Seattle service with a stop in Vancouver. Then again, since the route has otherwise been suspended during the pandemic, this is still a win for customers.

Singapore Airlines will use an Airbus A350-900 for the route, featuring a total of 253 seats. This includes 42 business class seats, 24 premium economy seats, and 187 economy seats.

What’s the logic for this new route?

Singapore is about to open to vaccinated travelers from several countries, including Canada and the United States, but in order to travel you need to take a “Vaccinated Travel Lane” (VTL) flight, which are designated flights between the two countries. The idea is that all travelers on a particular flight are vaccinated and have been tested, to further reduce risk.

Canada had been announced as a country that would take part in the VTL concept, but the problem is that there weren’t actually any flights between the two countries, so there was no way for people to take advantage of this.

With this newly announced route, Singapore Airlines will be able to serve VTL passengers from both the United States and Canada. The airline is going about this in an interesting way, though. Of the 4x weekly flights:

  • All of the flights from Singapore to North America will be open to all travelers, regardless of whether they’re part of the VTL arrangement or not (since it only matters when you’re going to Singapore, and not from Singapore)

  • Of the Seattle to Vancouver to Singapore flights, two of the weekly flights will be for VTL travelers, while two of the weekly flights will be for non-VTL travelers (in other words, those connecting beyond Singapore)

As cool as it would be if Singapore Airlines operated the Vancouver to Seattle service as a fifth freedom flight, I think that’s highly unlikely given the complexity around the VTL agreement.

As of now we only know that this service will be around for the winter season. I’m curious to see how this plays out in the long run, and if Vancouver is able to maintain Singapore Airlines service once things normalize again. With aircraft fuel efficiency and operating costs having improved so much in the past decade, maybe the economics make more sense than in the past.

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