* Air New Zealand to fly Auckland-Singapore route
* Singapore Airlines to operate Airbus A380 to NZ
(Adds details on industry background, carrier ties)
SINGAPORE Jan 16 Singapore Airlines Ltd
and Air New Zealand have deepened ties in a
partnership on shared codes and flights that could divert some
traffic from Australia, potentially adding to pressure on
loss-making Qantas Airways Ltd.
The tie-up is in line with Singapore Airlines strategy to
form global partnerships for its flagship premium airline amid
growing competition for the region's travellers from ambitious
Gulf carriers including Emirates Airline and Etihad
Singapore Airlines has already expanded its footprint in
Australia, increasing its stake in Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd
alongside Air New Zealand and Etihad to boost
passengers feeding into its long-haul premium services. That
deal came after Qantas switched its transit hub from Singapore
to Dubai as part of a wide-ranging alliance with Emirates.
Last month, Australia spurned a plea for help from Qantas,
whose credit rating was relegated to junk status by Standard &
Poor's following a shock loss warning from the carrier, squeezed
on its international routes.
Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand have enjoyed close
ties for years. Under the agreement unveiled on Thursday, Air
New Zealand will get to fly the Auckland-Singapore route, while
Singapore Airlines will operate the Airbus A380 to New Zealand.
"Subject to regulatory approvals, the carriers would aim to
boost their existing capacity between Singapore and New Zealand
by up to 30 percent year-round over time," the partners said in
a joint statement.
Pending the approvals, flights could commence as early as
The new alliance would enable Air New Zealand passengers to
access codeshare travel on the Singapore Airlines network to
Britain, continental Europe, South East Asia and Africa, as well
as on the network of its regional subsidiary airline, SilkAir.
Singapore Airlines' customers would be able to access
codeshare travel across the Air New Zealand domestic network and
to selected international destinations. Air New Zealand last
operated to Singapore in 2006.
Air New Zealand has been filling more seats through
competitive pricing. Increasing routes to Asian countries, a
growing source of tourism dollars, has also helped its long-haul
flights turn a profit.
In one of the long-standing links between the pair,
Singapore Airlines previously owned shares in Air New Zealand.
But it sold its entire 6.3 percent stake in Air New Zealand in
2004, ending a four-year investment that cost the company about
$336 million at that time.
(Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)