The West

Powerful partners
Picture: Geoffrey Thomas

The spider web of Singapore Airlines' flights spokes out from its South-East Asian hub. This is the 45th year that threads have connected this premium airline to Australia, and Singapore Airlines will be flying four times a day from Perth from October 28 until March 30 - one of the purple lines on its network map.

Those major, purple routes span from Singapore across the globe - direct to Europe, from London and Manchester to Moscow, Copenhagen to Istanbul, to seven cities in China and five in India, to name but a few areas.

But what have dramatically affected this map of Singapore Airlines' world are the green lines and orange lines. They are the result of its business and codeshare partnership with Virgin.

There's a positive effect inbound to WA. From Perth, Singapore Airlines passengers can connect on Virgin Australia to Karratha, Port Hedland and Newman, for example.

There's a bigger effect for us flying out. WA travellers, as Singapore Airlines passengers, can connect, for example, to Virgin Atlantic Airways' flights from London to nine destinations in the US - Orlando, Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York Newark and New York JFK. (Notwithstanding of course that Singapore Airlines itself also flies to JFK.)

The Singapore Airlines partnership means easy ticketing and an aligning of rewards programs; in other words, seamless travel, by booking through Singapore Airlines, to 179 destinations in 49 countries.

Supplied picture
The alliance connects Singapore Airlines' international network with Virgin Australia's Australian and Pacific destinations. Through the Singapore Airlines network, Virgin Australia customers will have access to 70 more destinations, while through the Virgin Australia network Singapore Airlines customers will have access to 30 others.

Members of Singapore Airlines' frequent flyer program can earn and redeem miles on Virgin Australia flights and Virgin Australia's members can do the same on Singapore Airlines flights.

Singapore Airlines chief executive Goh Choon Phong points out that Singapore Airlines has been committed to the Australian market for more than four decades.

"We are always looking for ways to serve our customers better," he said. "The partnership presents a significant opportunity for Singapore Airlines to drive growth in a manner consistent with our focus on service excellence, product innovation and network connectivity."

He added that it has enhanced the attractiveness of Australia as a travel destination while opening up new horizons for travellers.

And Virgin Australia Group executive of alliances, network and yield, Merren McArthur, says that, as a result of the alliance, Virgin Australia passengers can fly to destinations throughout Asia and beyond on a single ticket.

Singapore Airlines has earned its reputation as a premium carrier. For example, I was recently impressed by its economy service on a Boeing 777-200, of which Singapore Airlines has 32.

There are three rows of three seats across the body of the plane. It had a seat pitch of just over 86cm. Seat pitch is the measurement of leg room - the space between a point on a seat and the same point on the seat in front.

I'm about 188cm tall and found it very comfortable (unlike on a recent Qantas flight).

The service was excellent, the food was good. Indeed, Singapore Airlines was, in the 1970s, the first to offer a choice of meals in economy class.

It keeps quality in its service and in its fleet, which on average is six years and three months old - one of the industry's youngest. But it has also taken a new perspective on its pricing, offering some very competitive fares, which to some destinations have been lower than those of lower-service competitors.

Virgin Australia has also stepped firmly into the business market and performs well on the east-west routes. They make a powerful team. and travel agents

Don't miss our Singapore guide in next weekend's edition of Travel.

The West Australian

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