SINGAPORE, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- Singapore's long-haul budget carrier Scoot will not be slowing down in its growth, the company' s Chief Executive Officer Campbell Wilson has said.
"With a fifth 777 coming soon and 20 787s starting delivery from next year, we are not slowing down," Wilson was quoted as saying in an interview with local daily Straits Times.
Scoot, a unit of Singapore Airlines, was taken from concept to carrier within 12 months. It started with four 400-seat, two-class wide-body jets, "sporting a fully bespoke onboard product just 12 months after being a spreadsheet," he said.
In comparison, other budget carriers often begin their operations with one or two narrow-body 180-seat, single-class aircraft serving a couple of domestic or short-haul cities, and stay that way for a couple of years before growing bigger.
Wilson, a 41-year-old from New Zealand who joined the Singapore Airlines in 1996, said that the early days of planning proved to be a fleeting optimistic season before they hit the real world when Scoot started flying.
On June 4 last year, the inaugural flight of Scoot flied to Sydney, followed by Gold Coast on June 12. Now it flies to nine international cities including Sydney, Tokyo and Shenyang.
Wilson and his team have also started to win awards such as the Low-Cost Carrier of the Year.
Despite that, the carrier has run into prickly issues recently after passengers lost their patience with the flight delays of up to 15 hours due to a fuel tank problem in Singapore, a typhoon on the Gold Coast and fog in the Chinese cities. Police were called at Changi Airport in one of the incidents where Scoot tried to get 23 people sitting near an exit to change flights due to a faulty emergency slide. Scoot only said it was a technical problem at the time of the incident, without giving further details.
"You are carrying people with a whole range of expectations, moods and reasons for travelling," Wilson said. "Then you no longer control the message to the same extent and that's true of any organization that interacts with paying guests."
Wilson said 99 percent of the passengers may be happy. "But there are always a few who don't bother to read what they are agreeing to or who expect a Rolls-Royce at a Proton price."
On the Gold Coast and Tianjin weather delays, for instance, he said passengers were bussed, at the airline's expense, to Brisbane and Beijing respectively where the Scoot planes had been diverted.
"Other airlines, including full-service airlines, may have cancelled altogether," he says. His planes waited hours for the bussed-in passengers instead of flying off to be on time for the next destination.
Budget airlines have a quick turnaround and are in the air longer, which saves money.
There may be a bit of buffer when a fifth plane is ready around May. Scoot can manage schedules so that this is a back-up aircraft from 11p.m. to 3a.m., he says, when most Scoot flights depart from Singapore.
To avoid angst over any disruptions, he urges "Buy travel insurance." Since budget carriers are about 40 percent cheaper than legacy airlines, holiday-makers can use a slice of what they save to buy travel insurance.
Asked if budget airlines should be regulated to improve standards, he takes a page from history.
"History has shown time and again, including in Singapore, that deregulation of airline schedules, airfares and service models, while keeping a tight rein on safety, has allowed millions more people to travel, more often and in a manner that best suits their individual needs."
This gives flyers "unprecedented choice". Adding regulation reduces choice, he said.
"The cost of regulation is ultimately borne by the consumer," he added.