SilkAir, the Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group’s regional carrier, yesterday welcomed the first of its new fleet of Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft – planes the airline says will give it more options of routes to fly.

SilkAir has ordered 37 such aircraft and two more are expected to be delivered by the end of the year.

The remainder will arrive within the next five or six years, said SilkAir chief executive Foo Chai Woo, as the airline phases out its older Airbus 320s and 319s.

The Max 8 will begin flying to Hiroshima – SilkAir’s first destination in Japan – on Oct 30. It will eventually be deployed to its existing destinations such as Cairns and Darwin in Australia, and Hyderabad and Bangalore in India.

The fuel efficiency of the new plane will allow it to fly for up to seven hours – 30 minutes more than SilkAir’s existing planes, Mr Foo said. “This gives us more opportunities to look at and evaluate other potential routes in the future.”

He declined to confirm any new destinations, but said cities in India and China were among the possibilities.

The fleet renewal comes amid a slew of changes for SilkAir.

In July, it was announced that Scoot, the SIA Group’s budget carrier, would take over SilkAir’s flights to Palembang and Kuching. In August, The Straits Times reported that SIA and SilkAir had merged part of their financial operations.

When asked if further restructuring was on the cards, Mr Foo would only say the SIA Group was regularly evaluating “opportunities for synergy within the group”. “If it makes sense, it’s something that the company and the group will look at.”

Separately, Boeing also rolled out its first 787-10 Dreamliner for SIA at its assembly facility in South Carolina yesterday. SIA – the plane’s first customer – will receive the new aircraft in the first half of next year. SIA has 30 on order and earlier this year, it signed a letter of intent to purchase an additional 19 .

Mr Dinesh Keskar, Boeing’s senior vice-president for Asia-Pacific and India sales, said the 787-10 would be “an important part of SIA’s future fleet”, with its greater capacity and better passenger experience.



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