Singapore Airlines Officially Starts Flying 737s

Filed Under: Singapore

Here’s an exciting milestone — Singapore Airlines and SilkAir are finally integrating, meaning that Singapore Airlines will start flying narrow body aircraft.

Singapore Airlines & SilkAir merge, at last

In mid-2018 it was announced that Singapore Airlines and SilkAir would be merging. For context, SilkAir is Singapore Airlines’ wholly-owned subsidiary. While Singapore Airlines exclusively flies wide body aircraft, SilkAir exclusively flies narrow body aircraft.

When the merger plan was first announced:

  • Over time the SilkAir brand would be completely folded into the Singapore Airlines brand
  • Singapore Airlines would invest more than $100 million to upgrade SilkAir’s cabins with flat bed business class seats, as well as seatback entertainment in both cabins
  • The intent was to create a consistent flying experience across wide body and narrow body aircraft

SilkAir Boeing 737-800

While SilkAir had lower labor costs than Singapore Airlines, presumably the airline group decided that those savings didn’t outweigh the inefficiency of otherwise running two separate airlines in terms of scheduling, marketing, customer experience, etc.

Well, it has now officially been announced that the two airlines have merged, so from now on SilkAir will be branded as Singapore Airlines, and we’ll slowly see planes transferred to Singapore Airlines’ fleet.

Singapore Airlines will start flying 737s

SilkAir is in the process of transferring nine 737-800s to Singapore Airlines. With this, Singapore Airlines will be taking over some SilkAir routes, and former SilkAir planes will also start flying some former Singapore Airlines routes:

  • As of March 4, 2021, Singapore Airlines 737-800s will operate the Singapore to Phuket service; this was previously a SilkAir route, operated by the same plane type
  • As of some point in March 2021, Singapore Airlines 737-800s will operate the Singapore to Brunei service; this was previously a Singapore Airlines route, operated by a much bigger plane
  • The full integration of the two airlines is scheduled for completion in the 2021/2022 financial year

With 737s joining Singapore Airlines’ fleet, the airline is promising great consistency in product and service.

Singapore Airlines Boeing 737-800

Singapore Airlines Boeing 737-800 cabin layout

Singapore Airlines’ 737-800s will feature a total of 162 seats, including 12 business class seats and 150 economy seats. Unfortunately due to the pandemic and the grounding of the 737 MAX, Singapore Airlines’ 737s won’t be as good as initially planned, at least for now:

  • Singapore Airlines’ 737s won’t feature personal entertainment at every seat
  • Singapore Airlines’ 737s won’t feature flat beds in business class

Future plane deliveries should feature updated products, and maybe existing planes will be reconfigured in the future. However, for now you’ll want to temper your expectations in terms of the hard product.

FlyDubai 737 business class, similar to what was expected for Singapore Airlines

Bottom line

While Singapore Airlines’ initial 737s aren’t very impressive as such (due to lack of TVs and flat beds), this integration is great for consumers. Service will be more consistent, Star Alliance benefits will apply across SilkAir flights, and in general there will be less confusion.

As an avgeek there’s something strange and cool about seeing a 737 in the Singapore Airlines livery, since it’s a plane the airline hasn’t operated in a very long time. I can’t wait until these planes get personal televisions and flat beds in business class.

What do you make of Singapore Airlines operating 737s?

Comments
  1. I flew SIN HKT once on SilkAir business class and was a great experience.
    The seat was very comfortable and I didn’t need to lay down for less than a few hours in the afternoon.
    The meal was also nice.
    I could use the SilverKris lounge in SIN too.
    I actually liked the fact it was not marketed as SQ because SQ does suffer from a bit of a superiority complex especially on flights within Asia.

  2. This is a big benefit for Star Gold flyers. I was surprised several years back to learn that Silk Air was treated as a completely different airline than SQ and not a member of Star Alliance so no Star Gold benefits or even mileage earning. The Silkair brand isn’t particularly strong even in its home market, especially relative to the national institution that is SQ, so this makes sense to me from a marketing perspective.

  3. This is a very positive development and a great move. Silk Air’s branding is indeed not very strong or well known, as others like @justin have pointed out correctly, and this all makes sense from both brand consistency and customer experience, but also from economics and operational efficiencies. Airlines within Airlines don’t work (the model has been tried over and over again and with a handful of exceptions, often end up a temporary solution and end up either failing or being merged back into the main brand). The US industry is littered with these examples, and in Europe as well.

  4. Singapore Airlines’ livery looked especially smart on the carrier’s 727-200’s.

    I flew aboard one of the tri-jets in 1979 and remember it had a ‘California Here We Come!’ banner painted along the side. During the two-hour flight from Singapore to Jakarta a lunch was served in Economy that included a shrimp cocktail and Champagne…

  5. Honestly, I don’t think its worth investing in seat-back entertainment. iPads for J Class pax would suffice. These flights will barely fly for 2.5 hours/sector. Look at Qatar Airways, while many of their A320s do not have PTVs, their soft-product across both the classes (Premium and Economy) compensates for it. If Singapore works on its short-haul soft product, I don’t think they’d need to work on the existing hard product as the J and Y-Class hard product on Silk Air 737s are great!

  6. Ben, you wrote: “While SilkAir had lower labor costs than Singapore Airlines, presumably the airline group decided that those savings didn’t outweigh the inefficiency of otherwise running two separate airlines in terms of scheduling, marketing, customer experience, etc.”

    I infer from this statement that savings from SilkAir having lower labour costs will be lost because the former SilkAir employees will receive higher pay as part of Singapore Airlines. Am I correct? Is this a fact? Or are you speculating?

    Also, I see no need for flat bed seats in business class for many of the shorter routes SilkAir serves. The older seats were ok.

    Finally, not having personal screens at each seat isn’t a big deal. The old SilkAir Studio app was fine for shorter flights. Perhaps they’ll keep this and simply rebrand it as SQ.

  7. @bruh, Qatar’s soft product is wildly overrated. Unappealing food, middling booze, variable service which rarely feels from the heart, service stopping almost an hour before landing in some cases – I could go on. In economy, it’s a PR triumph posing as a world class airline.

  8. Flat beds and PTV might not be required on regional 2.5 hours long flights, however silk air was scheduled to operate routes as far as Hiroshima,and Darwin, Australia from Singapore, its a 6.5 hours flight, recliners doesn’t cut it in Asia.

  9. @shoeguy: “Airlines within Airlines don’t work (the model has been tried over and over again and with a handful of exceptions, often end up a temporary solution and end up either failing or being merged back into the main brand).’

    Ted!
    Song!
    RAR!

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