The surging number of visitors between Hong Kong and Singapore has encouraged Singapore Airlines to launch a seventh daily flight between the two cities from next weekend.
The move is part of an expansion of services by the Singaporean flag carrier in the coming months that is partly linked to further aircraft deliveries, according to David Lim (right), the airline's general manager in Hong Kong.
The latest daily departure will be inaugurated on March 27 and will come about a year after Singapore Airlines launched its sixth flight.
By comparison Cathay Pacific Airways already operates seven daily flights to Singapore although one includes a stop in Bangkok.
Lim said the 285-seat Airbus A330-300 was fully booked for the new flight's first departure. He said while Cathay Pacific offered 26 more seats on its A330s used to fly the route, the Singapore Airlines business class was more spacious.
Lim said the number of visitors from Hong Kong to Singapore climbed 51 per cent in January, one of the highest growth levels on record. He thought this was mainly because of people travelling before the start of the Lunar New Year holiday.
While the Singapore Tourism Board has yet to release visitor figures for last month, Lim was 'surprised passenger numbers kept up with last February's traffic figures' on the airline's Singapore-Hong Kong route.
He would not give details of the load factors on individual routes, but Lim said the airline generally had a passenger load factor of more than 80 per cent.
The growth in visitors this year followed large increases in traveller numbers last year.
Singapore Tourism Board figures showed the number of visitors arriving from Hong Kong soared 30.4 per cent to 323,929.
Comparable figures from the Hong Kong Tourism Board showed a 13.8 per cent rise to 709,777 in visitor numbers from Singapore.
Lim said Singapore Airlines would begin a three times a week service between Singapore and Sao Paolo in Brazil on March 28, which will be the carrier's first destination in South America. The 26-hour flight includes a stop in Barcelona, Spain.
Singapore Airlines will also take delivery of its 12th Airbus A380-800, which was due this month, in May. Seven more of the double-deck aircraft would be delivered 'this year and next year' to take the airline's total A380 fleet to 19, Lim said.