Airlines are working on slowly rebuilding their route networks after global travel more or less came to a standstill in early 2020. This is especially true of international routes, which have been impacted by border restrictions. Here’s an interesting route update from Singapore Airlines.
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Singapore Airlines adds back fifth freedom route
Historically Singapore Airlines has operated several fifth freedom flights to the United States, including from Frankfurt to New York, Hong Kong to San Francisco, Manchester to Houston, and Tokyo to Los Angeles. The airline is now planning on restoring the first of those routes, which will also be the first time in over a year that the airline offers first class to the United States.
As of June 16, 2021, Singapore Airlines will be resuming its fifth freedom flight between Tokyo Narita and Los Angeles. This is part of a larger rotation all the way between Singapore and Los Angeles. The flight will operate 5x weekly with the following schedule:
SQ12 Singapore to Tokyo departing 9:25AM arriving 5:30PM
SQ12 Tokyo to Los Angeles departing 6:40PM arriving 12:50PM
SQ11 Los Angeles to Tokyo departing 2:20PM arriving 5:50PM (+1 day)
SQ11 Tokyo to Singapore departing 7:00PM arriving 1:15AM (+1 day)
Singapore Airlines’ first restored fifth freedom flight to the USA
To me the addition between Tokyo and Los Angeles is most interesting, given that Singapore Airlines already flies nonstop from Singapore to Los Angeles, and also already flies between Singapore and Tokyo.
The fifth freedom flight covers a distance of 5,458 miles, and is blocked at 10hr10min eastbound and 11hr30min westbound.
Singapore Airlines will use a four cabin Boeing 777-300ER for the route, featuring first class, business class, premium economy, and economy.
Why this flight addition is kind of surprising
Given the distance between Singapore and the United States, historically a majority of Singapore Airlines’ capacity between the two countries has been via third countries, thanks to fifth freedom routes.
However, for the time being Singapore Airlines is only operating nonstop flights from Singapore to the United States, to Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. These are among the longest flights in the world.
Personally I’m a bit surprised to see Singapore Airlines add back the Tokyo to Los Angeles fifth freedom flight so soon:
- Japan’s borders continue to be largely closed, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon, especially with the country seeing a spike in coronavirus cases
- There continues to be a good amount of capacity between Japan and the United States among Japanese and American carriers, though I assume that’s primarily about cargo
- With this addition, Singapore Airlines is also increasing capacity between Singapore and Tokyo, which seems like a strange time to do so, given the extent to which both countries are closed
I would have to imagine that Singapore Airlines sees cargo as the big motivator here, because I just don’t see this being about a return of tourism between Japan and the United States anytime soon.
Singapore Airlines will be restoring its first fifth freedom flight to the United States since the start of the pandemic, which will be between Tokyo and Los Angeles. The airline will fly the route 5x weekly using a 777. This will be the first time in over a year that Singapore Airlines offers first class to the United States.
Personally I’m surprised to see a flight between Tokyo and Los Angeles restored so soon, given that Japan’s borders remain mostly closed.
What do you make of Singapore Airlines restoring its flight between Japan and the United States?