Singapore Airlines Launches LAX To TPE Route

Singapore Airlines Launches LAX To TPE Route

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As Singapore Airlines rebuilds its route network, the airline is launching a fifth freedom flight to the United States. Or more accurately, the airline is resuming a route that was canceled 13 years ago. This route is such a reminder of how time flies, because I remember taking this route back when it existed.

Singapore Airlines’ new USA fifth freedom flight

As of August 25, 2021, Singapore Airlines will launch a Singapore to Los Angeles flight via Taipei. The flight will operate 3x weekly with the following schedule:

SQ36 Singapore to Taipei departing 11:45AM arriving 4:40PM
SQ36 Taipei to Los Angeles departing 5:50PM arriving 3:20PM

SQ35 Los Angeles to Taipei departing 12:40AM arriving 6:10AM (+1 day)
SQ35 Taipei to Singapore departing 9:10AM arriving 1:40PM

Singapore Airlines is launching flights between TPE & LAX

The flight will operate eastbound on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, and westbound on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Singapore Airlines will use a three-cabin Airbus A350-900 for the route, featuring 253 seats, including 42 business class seats, 24 premium economy seats, and 187 economy seats.

Singapore Airlines’ A350 business class

Singapore Airlines will have pick-up rights between Taipei and Los Angeles, meaning that the airline can sell tickets exclusively between those two markets (that’s the fifth freedom flight, since it’s between two countries in which Singapore Airlines isn’t based). The transpacific segment is blocked at 12hr30min eastbound and 14hr30min westbound.

The Taipei to Los Angeles market is already pretty well served, in the sense that both China Airlines and EVA Air offer frequent service. Frequencies have been reduced during the pandemic, but the airlines have continued to operate the route. Singapore Airlines will be the third airline operating this route. On top of that, Starlux Airlines is planning on launching LAX flights in 2023.

EVA Air flies between TPE & LAX

This will be Singapore Airlines’ third route to Los Angeles — in addition to flying nonstop from Singapore to Los Angeles, the airline also flies from Singapore to Tokyo to Los Angeles, a route that was resumed in June.

What’s the motivation for this new route?

It’s interesting to see Singapore Airlines resurrecting this route with just a couple of weeks notice, after a 13 year hiatus. What’s the motivation here? A few thoughts:

  • Taipei doesn’t allow transit passengers, so this flight will exclusively carry people between Singapore and Taipei or between Taipei and Los Angeles, and won’t carry people between Singapore and Los Angeles
  • Taiwan is currently closed to Americans, so this isn’t about traffic originating in the United States
  • The United States is open to people from Taiwan, though they do have to quarantine on the way back

Based on current travel restrictions, I’d assume that the motivation for this route is two-fold:

  • Cargo is probably a big motivator, as Taipei is a huge cargo hub
  • There does seem to be a fair bit of demand from Taiwan to the United States, and I could even see people coming here to get vaccinated, given that vaccines are readily available in the United States, while they’re not quite as far along in Taiwan

I’m curious to see if this route ends up returning permanently, or if this is just a temporary route that responds to cargo and passenger demand at this particular moment. Singapore is planning on opening its borders to vaccinated people in the coming weeks, which should cause a major increase in travel demand for Singapore Airlines.

Singapore’s borders should be reopening soon

Bottom line

In August, Singapore Airlines will be launching a new fifth freedom flight between Taipei and Los Angeles. Since transit passengers aren’t allowed, this route is very much targeting the market between those two cities. I suspect this route is largely about cargo, but also about travel demand from Taiwan to the United States.

Singapore Airlines last operated this route 13 years ago, so I’m curious to see how long it lasts this time around.

What do you make of Singapore Airlines’ new route between TPE & LAX, and do you think it will stick around?

(Tip of the hat to Mainly Miles)

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  1. Josh Chang

    SQ is there for the lucrative cargo flights. CI has been flying CAL6 and CAL8 to LAX every day with freight and with very few selective flights with passengers.

    1. CuriousCat

      @Jeff

      Do you actually understand the definition of a "country"?

  2. Douglas DeNunzio

    The idea of being correct of the correct answer for being artful.

  3. Marcus

    I used to be regular back in the day. It was actually a LAX- HNL- TPE route before becoming a LAX - TPE route.

  4. Apso Eyot

    Oh yeah, I remember, this was the exact route that crashed as SQ6 back in 2000. The one where the pilot was so focused on taxiing slow in low visibility at TPE, he wasn’t really aware of his location, and proceeded to take off on the wrong parallel runway (despite the display not being right and the co-pilot telling him not to), where there was construction equipment on it further down. He survived and got...

    Oh yeah, I remember, this was the exact route that crashed as SQ6 back in 2000. The one where the pilot was so focused on taxiing slow in low visibility at TPE, he wasn’t really aware of his location, and proceeded to take off on the wrong parallel runway (despite the display not being right and the co-pilot telling him not to), where there was construction equipment on it further down. He survived and got fired by SQ shortly after. I read in a forum somewhere that apparently, he’s employed at AirAsia now. No wonder this route is a resumption and that combination of destinations rang a bell for me. It’s interesting how the new flight number also ends with a 6 (and 5 for the return), so it probably would have still been SQ5/6 if it weren’t for the crash. I think LAX needs more long-haul competition in general, since it’s a huge market that’s so fragmented between all the US airlines that consider it a “hub”, to the point that the major US airlines generally tend to shy away from flying a considerable amount of overseas routes from LAX on their own metal, and leave many of these routes, even the major ones, to only the foreign airline(s). (Example: KLM monopoly on LAX-AMS, Korean airlines monopoly on LAX-ICN, Taiwanese airlines monopoly on LAX-TPE up until now.) Contrast that to SFO, where pretty much every overseas route flown by the foreign airline(s) is also flown by United metal, plus a bunch where United metal has a monopoly. United can pretty easily become dominant from SFO overseas because they have a big hub there and no other comparable airline comes close. It’s kind of surprising that this is what LAX gets, especially with Starlux going there soon. Seems like this is going to be a crowded market.

  5. mark urakawa

    FLEW THIS SECTOR MORE THAN ANY OTHER PERSON. THE SQ6 FIASCO ENDED THIS FLIGHT. THEN SQ WANTED TO CONCENTRATE ON CHINA. ITS ALLWAYS CHINA WITH SINGAPORE. IN FACT THIS FLIGHT WAS ALLMOST ALLWAYS FULL. I HAVE THE RECORD OF FLYING THIS MORE THAN ANYONE/

    1. Jkjkjk

      Lee Kuan Yew has always wanted to concentrate on China since 60s. Singapore has no freedom of speech press or public assembly but more successful than Taiwan and HK. No wonder China still sends hundreds of public servants to Singapore.

  6. George

    I'd expect transit to reopen at some time in Taipei, at least for passengers coming from low infection countries, like Singapore. So the route is probably intended to serve through passengers as well. I flew from LAX to Singapore a couple of weeks ago, and plane was fairly full, for international flights during covid. When I arrived in Singapore, there were also quite a few transit passengers, with each group being kept segregated and escorted...

    I'd expect transit to reopen at some time in Taipei, at least for passengers coming from low infection countries, like Singapore. So the route is probably intended to serve through passengers as well. I flew from LAX to Singapore a couple of weeks ago, and plane was fairly full, for international flights during covid. When I arrived in Singapore, there were also quite a few transit passengers, with each group being kept segregated and escorted by PPE wearing monitors. So it certainly can be done in Taipei as well.

  7. VH

    Hope SQ will keep TPE-LAX longer this time ;)
    Enjoyed SQ27/28, SQ29/30 before

  8. Robert Schrader

    Taiwan is not “closed to Americans.” Its border is closed to all nonresident foreigners.

    1. Super

      Would you consider an American to be a nonresident foreigner?

    2. George

      Most are, but some are not- there are 200-900K Taiwanese who live in America, many of whom have American passports. There are also non-Taiwanese Americans who work in Taiwan and have residency there. Both of those groups can and might want to fly from America to Taiwan. All of them that hold American passports are American
      .

    3. Jkjkjk

      No. Americans who live and work with resident visa in Taiwan is not non resident foreigner.

  9. BC

    Random fact: SQ 006, which hit construction equipment on a closed runway during a typhoon in TPE in 2000 was flying this route.

  10. Austin787

    I flew the SQ flight LAX-TPE/TPE-LAX several times when I was a kid. Used to stop in HNL before SQ changed it to non-stop when they got planes with enough range.

    1. 767

      I remember flying SIN-TPE-HNL-LAX back when they operated the flight with a 747-300 Big Top. Did a stopover for a week in HNL. It was pretty cool to board in HNL a week later for the flight to LAX. We were the only transit pax to board then got special passes to expedite our exit at TBIT since we were domestic pax.

  11. shoeguy

    This is not a new route. SQ has operated SIN-TPE-LAX before.

    1. Super

      Ben mentioned that several times in the post...

  12. STEFFL

    To reply to some Q's here:
    No wonder SQ is entering that market, there is hardly any flights to LAX from TPE by China Airlines, only 2x week till end of October.
    AMADEUS TIMETABLE - TN ** LAX LOS ANGELES.USCA 15SEP21 22SEP21
    1 SQ 036 357 TPE 2 LAX B 1750 1520 0 25AUG21 29OCT21 359 12:30
    2 BR 012 D TPE 2 LAX B 1920 1620 0 01SEP21 30SEP21 77W...

    To reply to some Q's here:
    No wonder SQ is entering that market, there is hardly any flights to LAX from TPE by China Airlines, only 2x week till end of October.
    AMADEUS TIMETABLE - TN ** LAX LOS ANGELES.USCA 15SEP21 22SEP21
    1 SQ 036 357 TPE 2 LAX B 1750 1520 0 25AUG21 29OCT21 359 12:30
    2 BR 012 D TPE 2 LAX B 1920 1620 0 01SEP21 30SEP21 77W 12:00
    3 CI 024 2 TPE 2 ONT I 2110 1805 0 21SEP21 21SEP21 359 11:55
    4 CI 008 47 TPE 2 LAX B 2350 2050 0 16SEP21 10OCT21 77W 12:00

    That might answer the question about Why only bookable till end of October, because CI ist resuming daily frequencies aafter that again between TPE-LAX!

    Very interesting on China Airlines schedule is the 21Sep, flying to Ontario with an A350-900 from TPE!

    What's very strange is, that ALL 3 carries on that same route are Members of Star Alliance, BUT they all fight against each other! :-)
    No codeshare on those flights, not even with UNITED!

    1. Super

      Thanks for the flight schedule - do you have EVA's?

      For your note about ONT: Ontario airport in Southern California serves a very large Chinese and Taiwanese population as there is a significant community in the area.

    2. ernestnywang

      Eva is BR, as listed above.

    3. TLS

      Don't confuse China airlines with air China.

    4. TheerapatS

      Just minor corrections. CI is a skyteam member and it's been codesharing with Delta in some US routes, e.g., CI8 (DL7735) and CI4 (DL7725) to LAX and SFO, respectively.

  13. Chris

    I flew a similar route with MH back when they still flew to LAX. There was no issue with being a transit pax from KUL-TPE-LAX or vice-versa. Is that a new rule?

    1. dfw88

      Yes, it's a COVID rule. Presumably it will go away when the rest of the COVID restrictions are lifted.

  14. William

    Any thoughts on why the flight only bookable through end of October?

  15. anon

    "won’t carry people between Singapore and Los Angeles" LOL WHAT! has that every happened, an airline has a direct flight with one-stop but no one can actually book the entire flight??

  16. herman

    super high demand [especially in business class] in TPE-US sector these days due to the slow vaccination roll out in Taiwan. Lots of upper/middle class Taiwanese pax flying out to the US to get vaccinated. Full business cabin on these flights are not rare.

  17. Lulu

    This is welcome news as it’ll make my 2022 SEA trip much easier with a stop over in Taiwan to visit family. As for demand in vaccine tourism, Guam and Palau are much more accessible destinations for Taiwanese than LA is. Who wants to fly 13 hours just to get a vaccine?

    1. TLS

      You'd be surprised, plenty of people are, the flights are full, which might also explain Singapore airlines interest.

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STEFFL

To reply to some Q's here: No wonder SQ is entering that market, there is hardly any flights to LAX from TPE by China Airlines, only 2x week till end of October. AMADEUS TIMETABLE - TN ** LAX LOS ANGELES.USCA 15SEP21 22SEP21 1 SQ 036 357 TPE 2 LAX B 1750 1520 0 25AUG21 29OCT21 359 12:30 2 BR 012 D TPE 2 LAX B 1920 1620 0 01SEP21 30SEP21 77W 12:00 3 CI 024 2 TPE 2 ONT I 2110 1805 0 21SEP21 21SEP21 359 11:55 4 CI 008 47 TPE 2 LAX B 2350 2050 0 16SEP21 10OCT21 77W 12:00 That might answer the question about Why only bookable till end of October, because CI ist resuming daily frequencies aafter that again between TPE-LAX! Very interesting on China Airlines schedule is the 21Sep, flying to Ontario with an A350-900 from TPE! What's very strange is, that ALL 3 carries on that same route are Members of Star Alliance, BUT they all fight against each other! :-) No codeshare on those flights, not even with UNITED!

TLS

You'd be surprised, plenty of people are, the flights are full, which might also explain Singapore airlines interest.

Robert Schrader

Taiwan is not “closed to Americans.” Its border is closed to all nonresident foreigners.

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