Direct flights between Wellington and Canberra cut, to be diverted to Melbourne: Singapore Airlines

GUIDE: Using Points
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
TIME TO READ: 2 minutes
POSTED: February 1, 2018
UPDATED: February 20, 2019
LOYALTY PROGRAMS: Velocity Frequent Flyer, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
STATUS: The transfer rate between Velocity and Krisflyer increased by about 15% from January 2019 onwards. Read more here.

Singapore Airlines have announced that they are discontinuing their Capital Express flight between Wellington and Canberra as of 30 April.

While this is not good news for those in Wellington who enjoyed a direct connection to Canberra, whether for work or for visiting friends and family, there is a silver lining, with Singapore Airlines choosing to continue the route via Melbourne to Singapore with 4x weekly flights, starting 3 May.

Current service

Since September 2016, Singapore has been flying the ‘The Capital Express’ from Singapore to Canberra and onto Wellington and then back again.

Singapore Airlines Capital Express route

It is operated by a Boeing 777–200, with Business Class in an angled flat, 2–2–2 configuration.

Singapore Airlines 777-300 Business Class Cabin -  SQ211 Business Class (5)

Singapore Airlines 777-200 Business Class

However, this service is being changed from May due to poor passenger numbers.

Negative: Those in Wellington wanting to fly direct to Canberra

New service 1

Instead of flying between Wellington and Canberra, Singapore will now fly between Wellington and Melbourne.

You’ll still be on a Boeing 777-200 with those angled-flat Business Class seats pictured above, so no Premium Economy or First Class unfortunately.

Positive: Those based in Wellington now have another option to fly to Melbourne, along with Qantas and Air New Zealand. More competition on this route will hopefully result in cheaper travel.

New service 2

From 1 May, Singapore will upgrade their Canberra to Singapore flight to a Boeing 777-300ER, with all four cabins—First, Business, Premium Economy and Economy.

On the way back from Singapore, it will make a one-hour stop in Sydney.

This comes off the back of Qatar Airways launching its Canberra to Doha service via Sydney next month.

Positive: Canberrans access First Class, lie-flat Business Class seats and Premium Economy; Canberrans see increase of Singapore services from 4x weekly to daily; Sydneysiders gain an extra flight
Negative: Canberrans can no longer fly home directly from Singapore—it’s only direct on the outbound; Singapore does not have rights to carry domestic passengers between Sydney and Canberra

Using points on these flights

You can use Airpoints Dollars, United MileagePlus miles, KrisFlyer miles or Velocity points to book award seats on these flights. All values are for one-way travel.

RouteCabinAirpoints DollarsUnited MileagePlusKrisFlyer milesVelocity points
Wellington - MelbourneBusiness72025,00028,00038,000
Wellington - SingaporeBusiness2,42050,00058,00078,000
Canberra - SingaporeFirst2,15065,00080,00095,000
Premium EconomyN/AN/A45,00052,500

Summing up

While these changes aren’t great for those in NZ who have family in Canberra and enjoyed the direct link (no other airline offers this, and travellers will now need to go back to flying via Melbourne or Sydney), I personally think a connection through Melbourne is far better for Wellingtonians, in terms of wider connections, and competition.

I would imagine that award availability on these routes will continue to be good given that they are new, so if these work well for you when travelling to either Australia, Singapore or beyond, remember to factor these options into your planning and research.

Direct flights between Wellington and Canberra cut, to be diverted to Melbourne: Singapore Airlines was last modified: February 20th, 2019 by Daniel Kinnoch