Singapore Airlines is shifting from Australia's political capital to its sporting capital with new flights from Wellington starting tomorrow.
The airline has ditched services to Canberra and beyond to Singapore in favour of flights through Melbourne.
The Victorian city, home to grand slam tennis, Formula 1 racing and the Melbourne Cricket Ground, will be served by four-times-a-week flights, which the airline says offer better connection times throughout its network.
Singapore Airlines will use a Boeing 777-200 on the route but it was a matter of ''when, not if'' this would be replaced by a more modern aircraft, said New Zealand general manager Simon Turcotte.
That could be the new Boeing 787-10, which Singapore Airlines this year took delivery of as launch customer.
Turcotte said the new route was the ''next step'' and although he did not accept the Canberra link had been a failure, the new Melbourne service had resulted in a surge of bookings compared to the same period last year.
''It's been three months since we've made this change and we've been pleased with the pick-up. We've seen a double-digit increase in the number of passengers from Wellington to Singapore and beyond.''
Turcotte confirmed that alliance partner Air New Zealand would continue to code share on the Wellington to Singapore route.
On other international routes, Singapore Airlines has a long-standing code share deal with Virgin Australia, which Air New Zealand dropped as a commercial partner at the end of October. Singapore says it is continuing to work closely with Virgin on the future of any code share on the new Wellington-Melbourne service.
Singapore Airlines has changed the new flights' days of operation to Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday departures from Wellington and a new Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday departure from Singapore.
Turcotte says the change will provide a new long-weekend option for Wellingtonians to enjoy Melbourne.
"While our focus remains on growing travel from Wellington to Singapore and beyond, we know that Melbourne is an attractive destination in itself due its well-established food, culture and sport."
Another addition includes the ability for Business Class passengers to pre-order their main meal on any of the four sectors as part of Singapore Airlines Book the Cook offering.
The Wellington-Canberra-Singapore ''Capital Express'' got millions of dollars in marketing support from Wellington City Council over a decade and this is set to continue with the new route.
Singapore Airlines has flown to New Zealand for more than 40 years, and operates 18 weekly services from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to Singapore.
It established a code share alliance with Air New Zealand three years ago and from October 28 this year they will jointly operate a third daily service from Auckland to Singapore.