On 15 Aug 2017, Singapore Airlines and Latin-America carrier Avianca have signed an agreement to codeshare on each other’s flights, which will take effect from September 2017.
Under this agreement, SIA customers can have more connections to Bogota, Colombia, Avianca’s major hub. SIA will add its ‘SQ’ designation to Avianca-operated fights from its European gateways at Barcelona and London with connections to Bogota. Similarly, Avianca will add its ‘AV’ designation to SIA-operated flights between Singapore and both Barcelona and London. These codeshare flights will be made available for sale on SIA and Avianca sales channels from September 2017.
As with all other codeshare agreements, the main aim is to provide customers with an extended reach through the provision of greater travel options and literally, an expansion of the route network. SIA customers based in Singapore can book a seamless flight all the way to Bogota, which offers more options for onward travel within South America. Given that SIA has stopped its services to Sao Paulo in 2016, this codeshare agreement is a great move.
But what about award space? In a previous post, I wrote about how Avianca’s Lifemiles programme is an excellent platform on which you can secure award seats on Star Alliance partners. Plus, you can potentially get even more value during the periodic Lifemiles sale, which in my opinion is long overdue. The only issue with Lifemiles is that in most cases, only award space for Singapore Airlines’ regional premium products are available for redemption. Hence, I was hoping that the codeshare agreement could pave the way for award redemptions on Singapore Airlines’ latest premium products on Lifemiles.
A check on the Lifemiles website, however, yielded disappointing results. For example, a flight from Singapore to London still requires you to fly on the SIA A330 aircraft, which features the regional Business Class in a 2-2-2 configuration, before connecting to another Star Alliance carrier.
SIA award space for newer cabin products on non-KrisFlyer platforms is extremely rare. I once chanced upon one itinerary on Lifemiles that included a sector between Singapore and Tokyo (Haneda) that operates the B777-300ER, featuring SIA’s latest products, but I guess that was a one off encounter. In another example of how SIA guards the award space for its premium cabins is that of the Star Alliance Round the World fare, which applies a surcharge on almost all sectors operated by SIA aircraft with the newest cabins.
In my opinion, the move is justified, given that passengers are paying that much more to fly on Suites, First and Business Class on Singapore Airlines. In this regard, if award space for SIA premium cabins is always wide open, it could potentially dilute the prestige factor. In any case, SIA can always limit the number of seats available for redemption. If you can’t control the demand, you can always limit the supply.
The next big question is whether Singapore Airlines will block all award space on their new Suites, which is due to be revealed in a few months. Keeping my eyes peeled for that.