On 2 May 1976 Singapore Airlines (SIA) launched its first service between Singapore and New Zealand, beginning what has become a 45-year strong connection between the two countries. Operating a Boeing 707 fan-jet via Sydney, Auckland joined the Singapore Airlines network at the same time as major international destinations Paris and Dubai, bringing the SIA network to a total of 25 cities in 20 countries.
Within two years the twice-weekly service had grown to include a once-weekly direct flight from Singapore to Auckland operated by a DC-10, which was replaced two years later with a Boeing 747. Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Singapore Airlines had grown its operations in New Zealand to three points, Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington and was operating 26 weekly flights between New Zealand and Singapore. A further 12 services were operated by Air New Zealand under the strong alliance partnership the two airlines have formed over the past four and a half decades.
Singapore Airlines General Manager New Zealand, Mr Kenny Teo, says the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on air travel made for a unique environment in which to recognise the airlines 45th anniversary in New Zealand. “We are incredibly proud of all that we have achieved in our 45 years of operations to New Zealand, but our celebrations will be muted as we continue to navigate the most significant challenges the industry has ever faced,” Mr Teo says.
“The success we had achieved prior to the onset of the pandemic was possible because of our incredibly committed and dedicated staff, the support of the travel trade, our alliance partner Air New Zealand and of course, the unwavering support of the New Zealand public. We remain incredibly grateful for the way in which New Zealanders welcomed us to their country 45 years ago and while the pandemic has impacted our operations we have, throughout the COVID-19 crisis, remained committed to keeping New Zealand connected to the world via our Singapore hub.
“The importance of providing access for New Zealanders to return home from overseas as well as keeping key trade channels open and connected with New Zealand has been a focus for us throughout the pandemic. We will continue to support New Zealand through these challenging times and remain committed to rebuilding our network and connections in New Zealand in a safe and staged manner when the opportunity allows.”
Singapore Airlines has continued to operate significantly reduced passenger services to New Zealand since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic allowing New Zealanders to return home in a safe manner. SIA has also increased the number of Cargo-only services it operated to New Zealand during this period helping to deliver the nation’s first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in February.
Over the past 12 months, SIA has delivered important medical equipment to New Zealand along with more than 9,000 tonnes of goods, including almost 1,000 tonnes of PPE, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and COVID-19 test kits. During this same period, Singapore Airlines supported New Zealand exporters, carrying more than 10,000 tonnes of cargo to its global network, including over 3,000 tonnes of New Zealand’s famous meat, fruit, vegetables and fresh seafood.