Singapore Airlines Transferring A Third Of SilkAir Routes To Low Cost Scoot

Filed Under: Singapore

Singapore Airlines operates a regional subsidiary called SilkAir. They operate short haul routes, primarily around Southeast Asia, to second and third tier destinations that Singapore Airlines mostly doesn’t fly to.

So, for example, currently Singapore Airlines operates flights to Jakarta in Indonesia, while SilkAir operates flights to Jogjakarta in Indonesia.

I’ve flown Singapore Airlines more times than I can remember (they operate something like 100 flights a week to Australia), and could name just about every SIA destination off the top of my head, but I’ve never flown SilkAir before.

When I think about taking a one or two hour flight within Southeast Asia, I would struggle to pay the extra money to fly on SilkAir versus the dominant low cost carriers like Air Asia or Jetstar Asia, especially as SilkAir is not a member of Star Alliance, so Star Alliance status (aside from status directly with KrisFlyer) is not valid on SilkAir flights.

SIA also operates a budget arm, Scoot. They used to also operate a second budget arm, Tigerair, but this has now been merged/folded into Scoot.

Earlier this year, Singapore Airlines announced major changes to their SilkAir operations. They have decided to:

  • Merge the SilkAir brand into the Singapore Airlines brand, so that there will be one brand going forward, rather than a parent/mainline brand and a regional subsidiary
  • Install flat beds in their business class cabins; SilkAir only operates narrow body aircraft, while Singapore Airlines only operates wide bodies, much like the Emirates and FlyDubai distinction

Well ahead of the merging of the two brands, Singapore Airlines has announced some big changes to the SilkAir route network.

SilkAir Business Class

They will transferring seventeen routes currently operated by SilkAir to their low cost division, Scoot, over a period from mid to late next year.

These routes are Singapore to:

  • Balikpapan, Indonesia
  • Chang Mai, Thailand
  • Changsha, China
  • Coimbatore, India
  • Fuzhou, China
  • Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
  • Kunming, China
  • Lombok, Indonesia
  • Luang Prabang, Laos
  • Manado, Indonesia
  • Makassar, Indonesia
  • Vientiane, Laos
  • Semarang, Indonesia
  • Trivandrum, India
  • Visakhapatnam, India
  • Wuhan, China
  • Yogyakarta, Indonesia

SilkAir will be transferring 14 of its Boeing 737-800 to Scoot to operate these flights (presumably the crew are going with them too). I assume they will be reconfiguring these 737s with a much denser configuration, as Scoot does not have a premium class on their narrow body aircraft.

SilkAir is continuing to receive new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to grow their fleet.

Although Scoot does not already operate the Boeing 737 aircraft, as a point of reference, Scoot’s Airbus A320s has 180 seats with a tight 28″ pitch, while SilkAir’ 737s only have 162 seats — 150 economy seats with 30″ of pitch as well as 12 business class (recliner) seats with 38″ of pitch.

Scoot will also transfer routes to the full service Singapore Airlines/SilkAir arm (note both are already operated by Singapore Airlines or SilkAir):

  • Bengaluru, India to SIA
  • Chennai, India to SIA
  • Kochi, India to SilkAir (then to SIA once merged)
  • Shenzhen, China to SilkAir (then to SIA once merged)

Scoot also operates long haul, low cost flights, and has announced they will be suspending services from Singapore to Honolulu, because of insufficient demand.

Scoot long haul 787

SIA has said these various changes are all about sending the right aircraft and products to the right market ahead of the merger of SIA and SilkAir.

Bottom line

Although it would certainly be a downgrade for any passengers booked on a full service SilkAir flight to wind up on a budget Scoot flight, it makes sense for the SIA group to have the right mix of brands prior to the merger of Singapore Airlines and SilkAir.

If you are booked on a SilkAir (or Scoot) flight to one of the above destinations, check your booking over the next few weeks.

Have you flown SilkAir or Scoot?

(Featured image courtesy of Venkat Mangudi)

Comments

  1. I think they should order additional A320Neos to replace those 737 in the future… to ensure effeciency..l

  2. I’ve flown SilkAir a couple of times. Most recently about a year ago from PNH to SIN. It’s nothing special but gets the job done. Folding them back into SQ sounds like a sensible move. I guess that most of these regional subsidiaries are mostly about contracts with their employees. I wish CX would fold Cathay Dragon back into CX instead of farming out more of their regional flights to them.

  3. Sounds like a sensible and well thought out plan. Making sure that the right aircraft / product already flies to these markets will make the transition much smoother.

  4. I have flown Scoot once HKG-SIN in ScootBiz (787) and I regretted paying for that the moment aircraft door was closed. Barely anyone on board (around 10% seats taken). Many in Y took the opportunity to stretch out by having their own “rows”, while I was coffined into the narrow premium-economy-at-best seat with fixed armrest.

  5. I can’t wait to see what illogical, excessively hard flat-bed seat SQ picks to replace the antiquated MI recliner seat. Ugh. Arrogance is going to be the death of SQ.

  6. For some of these destinations it will be quite disappointing as it will remove potentially the only full service international flight into their destination. For corporate travel and luxury travelers this can be a major factor in dissuading travel to that destination.
    Last year SilkAir’s service from SIN to LGK (Langkawi, Malaysia) was switched to Scoot. This meant that there was no premium cabin service into Langkawi other than Malaysian through KUL. This is an island with Four Seasons, St Regis, Ritz Carlton, Taj resorts and many more 5 star deluxe destination hotels trying to attract international business. Coming off a first class SQ flight and being shoved onto Scoot (even for short haul) would suck epically and they say it has impacted on their business levels.
    But I assume SQ has done their homework. Silk air would work well for short haul destinations with corporate load. The destinations they have chosen to changeover appear to be mostly leisure destinations who would be more cost conscious and less comfort focused.

  7. @Jack and @Adrian Do you guys have an inference or an estimate on the timeline for SIA’s demise? Have you combed through the data (if any) on SIA’s business class bottomline? Share them with us, please.

  8. So if SQ absorbs Silk Air and acquires their planes, they will no longer be an all wide-body airline. Who does that leave? Just Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic, and Emirates?

  9. @James @Jack I was thinking more major airlines although I don’t have a concrete definition of that so Air Tahiti Nui could count. Thai Airways has A320’s if you include Thai Smile and I’d group Air Asia X in with Air Asia even though I know they are technically separate companies.

  10. @Glenn My comment was not meant literally. The Singapore government would never allow SQ to go under. I did mean to suggest, however, that SQ will likely continue to struggle financially (as it has for some time) in spite of all its marketing hype. SQ needs every loyal business traveler it can find, but it doesn’t seem to listen to such travelers (particularly non-Singaporean ones). When CX customers complained about the herringbone seats in business class, CX ripped them out and installed an industry-leading reverse herringbone seat. When SQ customers complained about the excessively wide business class seat with limited recline, a weird foot cubby for bed mode, and excessively hard seats, SQ . . . installed more of those seats, with an extra leather pillow. Even with Crazy Rich Asians to attract visitors to Singapore, SQ still needs transit passengers, as the Singapore-only market is too small. With new planes, SQ has tried to compete more effectively against the Japanese carriers and CX for US-Asia traffic, as it’s once again possible to reach Singapore from the United States in a single hop. Still, Changi is not blessed geographically as a transit airport for traffic from the US (or Europe), as it’s so far south.

    I fly a LOT to/from and within Asia each year and try to avoid SQ at all costs, instead giving my business to CX, NH, and (much as I hate Doha bus gates) QR.

  11. Goddamnit. Flying SQ from the United states to Laos or Chiangmai was the easiest way to get there (requiring one transfer in singapore as opposed to hopping from Tokyo to Bangkok) if you’re loyal to Star Alliance with status. I totally get their logic to reduce it to Scoot service, but ughh. after a 17 hour flight across the pacific, it sucks having to be stuck with a lcc especially if you’re flying with a bunch of bags across the ocean.

  12. flown Scoot many many times. Its really a great option within Asia. I’ve even flown Scoot from Singapore to Australia once for around $250 USD. As long as you expect an unpleasant experience, you’ll find that it serves its purpose very well

  13. SilkAir will be transferring 14 of its Boeing 737-800 to Scoot to operate these flights (presumably the crew are going with them too). I assume they will be reconfiguring these 737s with a much denser configuration, as Scoot does not have a premium class on their narrow body aircraft.

    SilkAir also has some A320, why don’t they transfer that to Scoot instead?

  14. @John: because they are retiring the A319/A320 and are switching to 737.

    Silk’s 737-800s are still fairly new and SQ won’t ditch them so quickly. With the routes are now split between SQ and Scoot and also marketing, it makes sense that SQ will take the more modern 737max and transfer the 737NG to Scoot and drop Silk’s old A320

  15. I’m shocked that I don’t see more leisure destinations. For example, Silkair flies to Cairns (primarily filled with Asian tourists and worldwide tourists looking to scuba) and CNS isn’t listed as a route transferred to Scoot.

    Interesting.

  16. So, I have an overnight SilkAir flight from SIN to CNS scheduled for next August. Any chance the new lie flat beds will be there for me then?

  17. Another superficial article. As an Australian, James, you could have at least mentioned that MI flies to DRW and CNS. It may be that Sydney people are ignorant of MI, but for those of us in the Northern tropics, it is a lifeline, as well as a much quicker way of getting to Europe via SIN. It doesn’t compare with Jetstar at all. They have proper food, comfortable seats and a very nice business class. I’m surprised that on an elite travel blog you are completely ignoring the fact that MI recognises Virgin Australia status. It’s not only KF status. It’s not your fault that you haven’t flown them before, but a tiny amount of research would have made a better and more relevant article.

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