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Singapore Also Can

Discussion in 'Chit-Chat' started by Loh, May 4, 2009.

  1. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Sakura season, Singapore style: NParks just collated an amazing bunch of photos of cherry blossom lookalikes all over the island

    Sean Lim
    April 4, 2019


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    Mervyn Tan,
    Ling Kin Joo

    With flowering trees and petal paths, Singapore is experiencing its very own sakura season – well, almost.
    On Wednesday (April 3), the National Parks Board (NParks) shared on its Facebook page a photo series of cherry blossom lookalikes, captured by people in Singapore, blooming in all their glory.

    Here are all the photos, and where they were taken.

    Nparks said that this is a Lagerstroemia speciosa along Tampines Road, captured by Ling Kin Joo.

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    Ling Kin Joo
    Here’s a closer look at the pretty pink flowers.
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    Ling Kin Joo

    This photo depicts a few Tabebuia roseas, also known as trumpet trees, and fallen flower petals. It was taken at North Buona Vista Road by Mervyn Tan.

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    Mervyn Tan
    Mervyn Tan’s photo is of this Tabebuia pallida, also referred to as trumpet tree, at West Coast Park.
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    Mervyn Tan

    A row of trees with pink and white flowers captured by Soh Ze Bin at Ulu Pandan Park Connector.
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    Soh Ze

    A close-up of the delicate-looking, pastel pink flowers

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    Soh Ze Bin

    There are also blooming yellow flowers during this sakura-styled season in Singapore. Andrew Tan’s photo is of these Macfadyena unguis-cati, also known as cat claw ivy, along Havelock Road.

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    Andrew Tan

    Roads at Clementi Avenue 6 are lined up with orange Bougainvilleas, as seen in this photo taken by Abdul Rahman Sultan

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    Abdul Rahman Sultan

    But while Singapore’s trees have their own unique beauty, they’re still a far cry from the real cherry blossoms in Japan this spring.
     
  2. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    NUS and NTU take joint 11th place in latest QS university rankings

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    TODAY file photo

    NUS maintained its 2019 position at 11th, while NTU jumped one spot up from 12th last year.

    Published19 June, 2019
    Updated 19 June, 2019
    SINGAPORE — The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have claimed joint 11th placing in the latest edition of the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings.

    The 2020 edition of the QS rankings, which ranks the world's top 1,000 universities, was released on Wednesday (June 19).

    NUS maintained its 2019 position at 11th, while NTU jumped one spot up from 12th last year. This makes NUS and NTU the best-placed Asian universities in the latest rankings, with China's Tsinghua University joining them in the top 20.

    “The remarkable global standing of our local universities attests to the quality of Singapore’s higher education system,” said an NUS spokesperson in a statement.

    In its press release, QS said NUS has a better reputation than NTU among academics and employers. On the other hand, NTU has the edge in terms of its smaller class sizes and larger research impact.

    “Singapore’s top two universities are a model for higher education excellence: high academic standards, a highly international outlook, and small classes designed to facilitate the sort of teaching that creates highly employable critical thinkers,” said QS director of research Ben Sowter.

    Mr Sowter also pointed out that both NUS and NTU received lower scores this year for their faculty to student ratios and international student ratios.

    “Efforts must be made to ensure that the state’s universities do not suffer the same teaching capacity pressures as their European and Australian peers,” he cautioned.

    In a statement, NTU said that its new leadership team under its fourth President, Professor Subra Suresh, has overseen the hiring of top talent over the past year-and-a-half.

    NTU added that its Presidential Post-doctoral Fellows programme, launched in 2018, attracted applications from nearly 900 young people from top institutions around the world, for 12 positions this year.

    Singapore Management University was the only other Singapore university to feature in the rankings. It ranked 477th, moving up 23 places from its previous ranking of 500th in 2019.

    The 2020 QS World University Rankings surveyed more than 94,000 academics and 44,000 employers to rank the world’s top universities from 82 countries.

    Six performance indicators — academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per faculty, faculty to student ratio, and the proportions of international faculty and international students — were used in the assessment.
     
  3. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    https://worldtop20.org/global-unive...MIt7eC8Pn04gIVlCQrCh3X8g4AEAAYASAAEgL9I_D_BwE

    Top 20 Project Mission: Educate Every Child on the Planet

    Home Global Universities Rankings

    Global Universities Rankings

    The 5th Annual World Top 20 Project’s Global Universities Rankings were produced to measure the quality of education and training for students 18 to 25 year olds, as well as, the university’s economic and social impact in promoting their country’s sustainable development.

    500 Universities were chosen, that meet NJ MED’s World Top 20 project objectives to: 1) improve nation’s attainment and achievement levels towards establishing a knowledge base workforce for the 21st century, and 2) promote social skills that positively affect community development.

    The Universities were then ranked in eight global regions (Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Oceania, North America, and South America). The 20 universities with the highest overall scores were selected for the World Top 20 rankings.

    The World Top 20 Universities Rankings for 2019
    How You Would Improve Your Country’s Education System? Survey


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    The information about each university’s:
    • Graduation Rate
    • Employment Rates
    • Admission Requirements
    • Tuition Cost
    • Scholarship Opportunities
    • International Student Aid, and
    • News Updates
    Is here on the College Review Page
    Everything You Need to Know to About College

    The 2019 Global Regional Rankings of the Top 5 Universities are:

    Africa
    1. University of Cape Town – South Africa
    2. University of the Witwatersrand – South Africa
    3. Stellenbosch University – South Africa
    4. University of KwaZulu-Natal – South Africa
    5. University of Pretoria – South Africa
    Asia
    1. Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (NTU)
    2. National University of Singapore, Singapore
    3. The University of Tokyo, Japan
    4. Tsinghua University -China
    5. Peking University – China
    Caribbean
    1. Universidad de la Habana – Cuba
    2. Universidad de Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico
    3. University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez – Puerto Rico
    4. University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras – Puerto Rico
    5. University of the West Indies – Jamaica
    Central America
    1. Universidad de Costa Rica – Costa Rica
    2. Universidad Nacional- Costa Rica
    3. Tecnológico de Costa Rica -TEC – Costa Rica
    4. Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnologia, Costa Rica
    5. Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá
    Europe
    1. University of Oxford, UK
    2. University of Cambridge, UK
    3. Imperial College London, UK
    4. ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Switzerland
    5. UCL (University College London), UK
    Oceania
    1. The University of Melbourne – Australia
    2. The University of Sydney – Australia
    3. The Australian National University – Australia
    4. The University of Queensland – Australia
    5. The University of New South Wales – Australia

    North America
    1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA
    2. Harvard University, USA
    3. Stanford University, USA
    4. California Institute of Technology (Caltech), USA
    5. Princeton University, USA
    South America
    1. Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo – Brazil
    2. Universidade Estadual de Campinas – Brazil
    3. Universidad de Buenos Aires – Argentina
    4. Pontificia Universidad Catoilca de Chile
    5. Universidad Federal do Rio de Janeiro – Brazil
     
  4. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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  5. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    #9645 Loh, Jun 19, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  6. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore Airlines voted second best airline in the world behind Qatar Airways
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    REUTERS
    Qatar Airways is the first airline to have been named the world’s best five times.

    Published19 June, 2019
    Updated 19 June, 2019
    SINGAPORE — Qatar Airways has beat Singapore Airlines (SIA) to the title of best airline in the world this year, at the 2019 World Airline Awards in Paris on Tuesday (June 18).

    Last year, SIA clinched the top honour while Qatar was second. This year, the positions were switched.
    With this latest award, Qatar Airways has also become the first airline to have been named the world’s best five times.

    ANA All Nippon Airways came in third, while Cathay Pacific and Emirates rounded out the top five in this year’s awards.

    Though it missed out on the biggest prize, SIA won accolades in four other categories: world’s best cabin crew, world’s best first class, world’s best first class seat and best airline in Asia.

    Qatar Airways was also named world’s best business class, world’s best business class seat and best airline in the Middle East.

    AirAsia was crowned the world’s best low-cost airline, and EVA Air the cleanest.

    “All of today’s award-winning airlines are voted for by customers, and the focus of our annual survey is for travellers to make their own, personal choices as to which airlines they consider to be best,” said Mr Edward Plaisted, the chief executive officer of Skytrax, which organises the awards.

    The winners of the 19th World Airline Awards were determined through an online survey, with 21.65 million eligible entries collected from Sept 2018 to May 2019.

    Voters who took part came from over 100 countries and picked their favourites out of more than 300 airlines that were included in the survey.
     
  7. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore tops list of leading maritime capitals for fourth time
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    Singapore's port is one of the world's busiest, with container throughput hitting 36.6 million 20-foot equivalent units and vessel arrival tonnage hitting 2.79 billion gross tonnes last year.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

    Published
    Apr 11, 2019, 5:00 am SGT

    Zhaki Abdullah
    azhaki@sph.com.sg

    Singapore has again clinched the top spot in a biennial ranking of the world's leading maritime capitals, the fourth time it has done so.

    The Republic has consistently topped the Leading Maritime Capitals of the World report - released once every two years by risk management firm DNV GL and consultancy firm Menon Economics - since 2012 when it was first published.

    The latest report was released yesterday at the Sea Asia conference, held in conjunction with Singapore Maritime Week.

    Coming in second was Hamburg in Germany, with Rotterdam in the Netherlands placing third. Hong Kong was in fourth place, while London came fifth.

    The report assessed 15 maritime capitals based on five areas - shipping, maritime finance and law, maritime technology, ports and logistics, as well as attractiveness and competitiveness.

    Singapore's port is one of the world's busiest, with container throughput hitting 36.6 million 20-foot equivalent units and vessel arrival tonnage hitting 2.79 billion gross tonnes last year.

    Singapore topped the list in three areas - shipping, ports and logistics, and attractiveness and competition.
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    "The strong results on both the objective indicators and expert assessments affirm (Singapore's) relevance as a critical node within the maritime sector regionally and globally," said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) in a statement.

    However, for maritime technology, Singapore placed eighth - a drop from the second-place ranking it clinched in 2017.

    DNV GL Maritime regional manager Shahrin Osman said this was because the report looked at factors such as the amount of equipment produced, as well as the value of assets delivered.

    In these areas, cities like Oslo in Norway and London - which came first and second respectively for maritime technology - are "well ahead" of Singapore, noted Mr Shahrin, who co-authored the report.

    "Singapore should continue to invest in maritime research and development, as well as education," he said, noting that this would help improve its ranking in this area.

    He added that efforts such as the Singapore Maritime Data Hub could aid Singapore in meeting the challenges of the ongoing digitalisation of the industry.

    Noting Singapore's fifth place for maritime finance and law, Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) executive director Michael Phoon said the industry needs to "maintain a hard focus on bringing up ship financing". He noted that the SSA had in recent years tried to raise awareness of capital and financing issues for shipping through forums and conferences.

    The report took in the views of 200 maritime experts, who predicted Singapore would retain its top spot over the next five years.

    However, they noted stronger competition from other cities such as Shanghai, which they tipped to rank second to Singapore in five years because of the growing influence of China's economy.

    Also highlighted in the report was Singapore's ongoing efforts to strengthen its attractiveness as a maritime centre, which have been well received by the industry.

    MPA chief executive Quah Ley Hoon said Singapore's ranking first was an affirmation of its "commitment to develop and grow the maritime industry", though she noted the Republic cannot rest on its laurels. "We are in one of the fastest growing regions in the world, and we will be looking at how to plug into the growth of Asia and Asean so we can continue to tap the increasing inter-Asia trade."
     
  8. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore teachers working fewer hours, but still more than international peers: OECD survey

    By Faris Mokhtar

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    TODAY file photo

    The global survey of schools found that Singapore teachers are now working fewer hours than they were in 2013 though some teachers here dispute this finding.

    Published19 June, 2019
    SINGAPORE — Teachers here are working about two hours less a week than five years ago, but are still clocking in more time than their international peers, a major global survey found.

    The survey, published on Wednesday (June 19), showed that Singapore teachers work 46 hours on average every week, of which 18 hours are spent on teaching, with the rest spent on other work such as administrative matters and school activities.

    It is the second time that Singapore has taken part in the five-yearly Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Teaching and Learning International Survey, which was last done in 2013. The OECD is an intergovernmental body representing 36 developed economies, though the survey extended beyond its member countries.

    The 2018 report showed that Singapore teachers’ working hours are slightly shorter than their working hours in the 2013 report, which were at 48 hours a week. They are also teaching one more hour a week than the 17 hours in the 2013 report.

    Speaking to reporters after a briefing on Wednesday, Mr Wong Siew Hoong, director-general of education from the Ministry of Education, attributed the change largely to a reduction in administrative work.

    However, the teachers are still working longer hours than their counterparts in other countries, who clocked in an average of 39 hours a week, the survey showed. In 2013, the international average was 38 hours.

    And globally, even though they work fewer hours overall, teachers are engaged in teaching for 21 hours on average — three more hours a week than teachers in Singapore.

    The survey was first conducted in 2008 and is done every five years. This year the number of countries taking part rose from 33 to 48 and polled more than 250,000 teachers. A total of 3,280 lower secondary school teachers from 157 secondary schools and a random selection of 12 private schools in Singapore were surveyed.

    The education systems involved in the survey included those from Australia, Britain, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, Shanghai in China, the United States and Vietnam.
    Here are the key findings from the report:

    SHORTER HOURS FOR TEACHERS

    The OECD survey showed that for teachers here, time spent on administrative work fell from 5.3 hours a week in 2013 to 3.8 hours last year. However, it is still higher than the international average of 2.7 hours.

    Similarly, there was a drop in the time set aside for marking — from 8.7 hours in 2013 to 7.5 hours last year. Still, this is significantly higher than the international average of 4.2 hours.

    What teachers say: Four teachers teaching the lower secondary level, who spoke to TODAY on the condition of anonymity as they were not supposed to speak to the media, said that they did not feel their working hours have been reduced.

    Most of their time is spent on administrative work, planning lessons as well as co-curricular activities and other school activities, they added.

    Those interviewed said that they clock from 47 hours to more than 52 hours a week, taking into account the hours spent on some Saturdays due to co-curricular activities.

    A teacher in his 30s at Temasek Secondary School said that he works on average 9.5 hours a day and some half-days on Saturdays. “Administrative work takes up a substantial part of my time, but I’m not bogged down by it,” he said. “Some of the administrative processes are beginning to be digitalised, so, not too bad.”

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    Source: OECD

    However, another teacher at Commonwealth Secondary School, who is in her 20s, suggested that the survey makes a “wrong” assumption that teachers here do not spend more time teaching compared with their peers in other countries.

    “We spend a lot of time planning lessons, trying to introduce creativity and innovation in the classrooms and that helps a lot with learning,” she added.

    “Teachers in other schools might spend more time teaching, but not necessarily invest time in coming up with such lesson plans. So, when it comes to teaching, it’s important not just to look at the hours, but other factors taking place outside the classroom.”

    What MOE says: Touching on the shorter working hours, Mr Wong told reporters: “This is indeed gratifying to know, because the ministry has put in quite a number of initiatives to try and reduce teachers’ administrative workload. “For example, in terms of attendance marking (and) in terms of the consent form that is necessary when they want to take the students out on learning journeys.”

    TEACHING STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

    More than a third of Singapore teachers — or 35 per cent — surveyed have undergone training to teach students with special needs, significantly higher than the 23 per cent figure in the 2013 survey.

    There was also an increase in teachers expressing the need for such training, from 15 per cent in 2013 to 20 per cent last year.

    These figures though, are lower than the international average, where 43 per cent have undergone training in the area, while 22 per cent said that they want such training.

    The OECD report stated that, on average, 19 per cent of teachers here work in classes where at least 10 per cent of the students have special needs. This is markedly lower than the international average of 27 per cent.

    For Singapore teachers, the need for training in the area comes as a growing number of such students enrol in mainstream schools, with the size having doubled from 13,000 in 2013 to about 26,000 last year.

    In addition, 17 per cent of school principals reported that the “delivery of quality instruction in their schools is hindered by a shortage of teachers with competence in teaching students with special needs”, compared with 32 per cent across the other OECD countries.

    What teachers say: Teachers interviewed said that as more students with special needs enter mainstream schools, teachers should be better trained to deal with their emotional and learning needs.

    A teacher at Bukit Batok Secondary School said: “Helping them requires patience, and some of my peers I know, have said they are exasperated and at a loss on how to help them. If we want to be more inclusive, teachers have to get as much training in this area as we do in other areas.”

    What MOE says: Describing the findings as “useful”, Mr Wong said that schools have become “increasingly inclusive” as there are more students with special needs taking up the mainstream curriculum. Teachers, he added, are also “trying their best” to effectively help such students.

    “And the teachers, through the survey, have indicated the need for more professional development in these areas,” Mr Wong noted. “We have been doing this and we will be reviewing this to see what more professional development programmes our teachers can undergo to make them more effective teachers in supporting students with special needs.”

    OTHER FINDINGS FROM THE SURVEY
    • Just like in the 2013 survey, Singapore teachers are markedly younger than their international peers. They are 38 years old, on average, compared with the international average of 44 in the 2018 report.
    • More than 95 per cent of the teachers surveyed here said that they joined the profession for two key reasons: Wanting to influence the development of children and contribute to society.
    • More than 95 per cent of teachers also said that they are “well-trained” in areas such as subject content, teaching pedagogy and classroom practice as part of their induction training. The figures in these areas are higher than the international average of between 88 and 92 per cent.
    • When it comes to equality and diversity in schools, all of the teachers here said that it is important to treat students from all socio-economic backgrounds equally. Students, they added, should learn that people of different cultures have a lot in common.
    • The survey also showed that 99 per cent of Singapore teachers organise multicultural events compared with the international average of 55 per cent.
    • Likewise, 98 per cent support activities or organisations that encourage students of diverse ethnic and cultural identities, while only 61 per cent of teachers from other countries do so.
     
  9. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    NUS scientists develop world’s first blood test to accurately detect Alzheimer’s disease

    By Kimberly Lim

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    TODAY/ Kimberly Lim

    Assistant Professor Shao Huilin (left) from the National University of Singapore's Institute for Health Innovation & Technology, with two other members of the research team that developed the blood test to detect Alzheimer's disease.

    Published24 June, 2019
    Updated 24 June, 2019

    SINGAPORE — A team of researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has developed a new blood test to detect Alzheimer’s disease that it says is the fastest and most accurate in the world.

    The Amplified Plasmonic Exosome (Apex) system is able to detect mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, which leads to severe dementia, and can provide results within an hour, after analysing certain proteins in blood samples.

    Currently, there are three ways to diagnose dementia: A neuropsychological test, spinal fluid sampling and brain Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging.

    The most common method is the neuropsychological test, while the PET scan is considered the most accurate test on the market now.

    The brain PET imaging uses a special dye which contains radioactive tracers, that patients would have to either inhale or receive it through an injection. The patient would then have to wait an hour for the tracer to be absorbed by the body.

    The areas of the brain containing disease would then appear as coloured spots on the PET scan.

    Assistant professor Shao Huilin from NUS Institute for Health Innovation & Technology (NUS iHealthtech), who led the study, said: “The clinical study shows that the Apex system can accurately identify patients with Alzheimer’s and those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). It also differentiates them from healthy individuals and patients suffering from other neurodegenerative diseases.”

    She added that the blood test shows “comparable results with PET imaging, the current gold standard for Alzheimer’s diagnosis”.

    The blood test is expected to be in use in hospitals and general practitioner clinics within the next five years, Prof Shao said, adding that it will priced at around S$30.

    The current design can test 60 samples simultaneously, with the results being available in less than one hour.

    Last year alone, dementia affected 50 million patients worldwide and the number is expected to increase to 82 million by 2030 and 152 million by 2050.

    Every year, there are more than 9.9 million new cases of dementia diagnosed worldwide.

    A study conducted by Singapore's Institute of Mental Health in 2015 estimated that one in 10 people in Singapore over the age of 60 had dementia. It also projected that there would be more than 100,000 dementia patients here in a few years’ time.

    Prof Shao hopes that this new blood test will be able to help stem the tide.

    “With this new blood test to enable early detection for Alzheimer’s disease, we think that it can offer many new opportunities for intervention and management. For example, by encouraging lifestyle changes, more active participation in cognitive as well as physical activities, we can regulate the progression of the disease.”

    The early detection of Alzheimer’s can also help facilitate the discovery and development of new drugs, she added.

    Out of the 84 patients involved in the clinical study, all 68 who have dementia or neurovascular compromises were diagnosed by the blood test.

    Prof Shao noted that for now, there is no good blood-based method to effectively screen and monitor Alzheimer’s, making the NUS test a world’s first.

    “New tests that are under investigation have either poor accuracy or low sensitivity. The Apex technology addresses both of these limitations and is therefore a very powerful and objective companion diagnostic system to complement existing clinical and neuropsychological tests for early detection and better management of the disease,” she said.

    She added that the convenience of blood tests will also be able to allow doctors to monitor a patient’s response to treatment.

    “This technology can be easily scaled up for large-cohort clinical validations and drug evaluation.”
     
  10. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Can Singapore Airlines overtake Qatar Airways as world's best airline?

    By David Leo
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    Changi Airport/Facebook

    For SIA, it is not easy staying at the top, as other airlines are catching up fast, says the author.

    Published25 June, 2019
    Updated 25 June, 2019
    Qatar Airways took top spot in the 2019 Skytrax World Airline Awards ranking, switching places with last year's winner, Singapore Airlines (SIA).

    In an annual exercise which does not see significant movement among the ranks, the close rivalry between the two airlines for the top honour seems to be the only exciting news. Eight out of the last 10 years since 2010, SIA ranked one position behind Qatar.

    The exceptions were in 2010 when SIA was second and Qatar third, and in 2018, when SIA was named the world's best airline.

    There are a couple of worthy observations to be made of the latest Skytrax survey, which since its launch in 1999 has become widely recognised as an industry benchmark. Over 21 million people were surveyed.

    First, consistency makes a winning trait. Every year, you can expect to see in the top 10 list perennial favourites – besides Qatar and SIA, names such as All Nippon Airways (3rd this year), Cathay Pacific (4th), Emirates (5th), EVA Air (6th) and Lufthansa (9th). Like SIA, both Cathay and Emirates were four-time winners in the past.

    So an airline can deservedly give itself a pat on the back wherever it is placed in the top 10, allowing some leeway for subjectivity, bias in the composition of respondents, and weightage as expected of all surveys.

    But, of course, it is a big deal to be declared the overall winner. With it comes extensive global news coverage and publicity. On that score you can't blame SIA if it felt sore being pipped by Qatar yet again.

    Qatar became the first airline to win the award five times, an honour that would have been SIA's had it won again this year.

    It appears SIA has lost the edge of yesteryear to a better player. Its win last year marked a commendable comeback after 10 years, reliving the hope of the previous decade when it won three times in 2004, 2007 and 2008.

    But it was short-lived. Does it look like Qatar has become an unbeatable foe?

    One may be quick to think cash-rich Middle East airlines enjoy an unfair advantage considering the wonder that money can do.

    But to SIA's credit it has held its own, winning the award of the world's best first class. Qatar was not even a close second but fifth after Lufthansa, Air France and Etihad Airways in that category.

    The first class product has been SIA's forte since its inception. But that's not good enough to beat Qatar in the Skytrax ranking, despite SIA winning the award for world's best cabin crew to boot.

    Today's focus seems to weigh in more heavily on the business class product for which Qatar came up tops, followed by ANA and SIA in second and third placing respectively.

    This is probably the fiercest battleground among airlines, which explains how many of them have been upgrading their product in recent years.

    Flat beds are no longer a desired but essential feature. Seats are being designed increasingly to provide maximum privacy.

    Qatar no doubt impresses with its new cubicle-like Qsuite which has its own door. There is a double bed option, and quad configurations allow businessmen to confer and families to share the private space.

    It should be said that SIA's business class too is impressive. According to Skytrax, its spacious seat is the best in Asia.

    In its early days, SIA was known to be a leader in innovation. It has lost the lead somewhat in some fields in recent years, but the good news is that SIA as a latecomer still manages to catch up and make it to be among the best.

    An example is premium economy. For some time after Cathay hyped up interest in the renewed product as a sub-class in its own right with its own cabin, SIA resisted following suit until 2015.

    Today it was voted the best premium economy in Asia, second only to Virgin Atlantic worldwide in the 2019 Skytrax survey.

    To be sure, the survey and other similar ones can be skewed by the halo effect of the premium service. The playing field for economy class is pretty much level, but the competition has led to an increasing push for differentiation.

    According to Skytrax, Japan Airlines ranked first in this category, followed by SIA and Qatar in second and third placing respectively.

    You may then wonder how SIA, being better than Qatar for both first and economy but second to Qatar for business, is not the winner. It all comes down to the weightage.

    A second significant observation of the Skytrax survey is how easy it is to fall from grace. Asiana Airlines, ranked 28th in the 2019 survey, was the world's best airline in 2010 and stayed in the top 10 list for six consecutive years until 2014.

    In subsequent years it kept tumbling four or five notches down.

    A second significant observation of the Skytrax survey is how easy it is to fall from grace. Asiana Airlines, ranked 28th in the 2019 survey, was the world's best airline in 2010. Until 2014, it was a familiar brand in the top 10 list. But in subsequent years it kept tumbling four or five notches down.

    Etihad Airways is another example.

    It did reasonably well for eight years until 2018 when it was ranked 15th and a year later suffered a dramatic decline to the 29th spot.

    We can surmise that service inconsistency and falling standards contributed to these airlines' decline.

    Fortunately for SIA, the corollary holds true and poses a different challenge — it is not easy staying at the top. Other airlines are catching up fast.

    According to the latest Skytrax survey, SIA fell behind Emirates and Qatar for in-flight entertainment; behind EVA Air, JAL and ANA for cabin cleanliness; behind EVA Air for economy class catering; and behind five others namely ANA, Thai Airways International, JAL, EVA Air and China Airlines for airport services.

    However, SIA may find vindication in a different survey. Skytrax may be prestigious but not definitive. Conde Nast readers, for example, have voted SIA as the best airline for all but one of the last 30 years of the awards, scoring top marks for seat comfort, in-flight service and reliability.

    It also gets praise for continually upgrading its product. In the last Conde Nast survey announced in 2018, Qatar Airways was ranked third behind SIA and Emirates.

    It will be interesting to see if the 2019 Conde Nast survey replicates that of Skytrax. If Qatar beats SIA, then SIA needs to seriously look at what it needs to do to regain the top spot.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
    David Leo is a published author and an aviation veteran, having worked in airline and airport operations for 30 years.
     

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