Singapore first class travellers have big spending power

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption An airplane skids off the runway at Singapore’s Changi Airport after having taken off from Tampines in 2015

Passengers are seeing a fourfold increase in the amount of times they have to pay to be in first class – but so far this isn’t pushing them to fly via Hong Kong or Malaysia.

Figures from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore suggest only a small proportion of passengers are switching airlines as a result of these new fees.

More Britons may be looking at either paying for flights or opting for more extravagant accommodation.

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What the report also shows is how Singapore’s air traffic has grown so quickly, on the back of a major airport expansion.

That led to a boom in premium flights and passengers paying more and more to be in first class.

Cathay Pacific has taken a plunge into the changing price climate, with some passengers reportedly paying as much as £20,000 a month for a premium room in the airline’s top suites.

East Asia: Not so bad?

Re-titled “Revenue protection”, the air rights study shows that over the past five years, many countries have made it easier for airlines to get the air rights they want.

For example, the Maldives gave away its far-flung waters free of charge to prevent competition from other countries.

And China was the destination of choice for several countries where opposition MPs complained about economic development, wanting to be included in the boundary change.

In Malaysia and Thailand, with improving economic conditions, the number of international passengers went up, meaning airlines could impose new fees.

The US, Singapore and Hong Kong are the “sizzling” countries where it could be much harder to negotiate air rights.

The report’s author, the aviation industry regulator, comments: “Asia is still the home of the competitive global air transport market.”

He suggests that passengers may have the option of upgrading to higher price classes on some airlines. But by studying the impact of fees on airline efficiency, he believes that “low-cost carriers, particularly those focusing on improving the customer experience, may have some success” in attracting passengers.

Even those who already have luxury accommodation might be looking for ways to avoid travelling on long-haul journeys.

A study by global research group J Walter Thompson suggests nearly a third of all parents do not fly their children on journeys over 12 hours – and even up to a fifth of younger Britons plan to forgo travel altogether by 2030, preferring to stay in or eat out in expensive cities.

Given that the number of first class seats on domestic flights in some cities is already in double figures, J Walter Thompson points out: “If the next generation of global travellers is demanding or expecting to save on financial services, culture and leisure items, how much further will international air travel have to change in order to reflect that trend?”

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