SilkAir was a regional airline based in Changi, Singapore, which operated passenger flights between the country and 28 destinations in 13 other countries. In addition to connecting Singapore with cities around the world, SilkAir also served the short and medium-haul destinations within the Singapore Airlines network. Despite its name, the airline was no longer in operation as of March 2009.
SIA’s plans to expand the network of SilkAir in Singapore are a key part of the airline’s strategy. With new-generation aircraft coming on stream, the airline plans to boost its profile and expand its network while serving niche markets. It plans to open secondary destinations in China and India as well. Regardless of its future growth, the airline is likely to remain a key part of the SIA group in Singapore.
The booming economy in Indonesia and the close relationship between Singapore and Indonesia are two of the main reasons for SilkAir’s growth. Indonesia is already SilkAir’s largest single market, and it could soon be one of the carrier’s most important markets. The additional services SilkAir offers in Indonesia will likely help feed SIA flights and avoid transferring passengers through congested Jakarta. Moreover, SilkAir is expected to expand its capacity in Indonesia in the coming years, and the airline hopes to increase its presence there.
The airline currently flies a mix of Boeing 737-800s and 737-MAX 8s to 49 destinations in 16 countries. It is transitioning its fleet to Boeing aircraft as it has experienced success with Airbus. The airline has previously operated Boeing 737 Classics, and then switched to Airbus A320s. The airline expects to phase out the last A320 once 31 firm 737 MAX 8s are delivered. Further 737s could be purchased by SilkAir if they wish to expand their fleet. SilkAir Singapore’s future appears bright as the airline prepares for several years of rapid growth. With the current fleet plan, SilkAir would operate a net of 32 aircraft from 2013 to 2021, with an average capacity increase of 16 percent per year.
The airline’s recent financial results are encouraging. It has been profitable each year since FY2002, outperforming rival SIA for three straight years. Operating margins have increased every year since it joined the Singapore Stock Exchange in January-2010, demonstrating its ability to improve efficiency and increase revenue. The airline aims to continue to build on its record of profitability and growth. However, it must be prudent about the future of the airline.
As a regional airline, SilkAir focuses on providing service and comfort to passengers. The airline is sandwiched between its budget subsidiary Scoot and its parent carrier. As a result, SilkAir often surprises passengers flying codeshared with Singapore Airlines. For example, passengers flying from Singapore to Thailand may be surprised to see the high-quality service provided by SilkAir. At the same time, the airline is still able to offer many of the same award-winning in-flight services and facilities as Singapore Airlines.
The story of SilkAir is likely to end as a case study in a disappointing failure. Suresh Kumar is a freelance writer working in the advertising industry in Singapore. This article was originally published on his LinkedIn page. SilkAir has since been merged with Tigerair Singapore. While the merger of these two airlines did not involve a major overhaul of the company, it did involve a significant strategic decision. Management began an AWA expansion strategy, with individual airlines targeting their primary segments of travel.
The merger is good for SIA as it will promote a single brand and cut marketing costs. Despite its name, SilkAir has been an airline for leisure since 1991. When it first started advertising its services to the United States and Europe, it was known as SilkAir. This branding, however, was often associated with business travel. By renaming it to Tradewinds, the company will be able to expand its network without sacrificing its brand image.
A year after the merger, the airline was still in its early stages. SilkAir’s surviving Boeing 737-300 aircraft ceased operations, and it was merged with Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines System. The merger was a compromise between the two countries, as Malaysia wanted to build its domestic network before focusing on international routes. Both airlines retained their corporate headquarters in Singapore and continued to operate out of the Singapore airport. The first chairperson of Singapore Airlines was J.Y. Pillay, and female flight attendants continued to wear the sarong kebaya uniform.
Onboard the airline, passengers will enjoy a full-service experience. Both economy and business class cabins feature spacious legroom and adjustable headrests. Baggage policies are similar to Singapore Airlines’. Each passenger is allowed 30kg of checked luggage and seven kilograms of carry-on luggage. While these are not huge amounts of luggage, passengers will still have plenty of room to store their personal items. The cabin also has nice lighting.
The fate of Silk Air Singapore is uncertain, as the company is destined to merge with Singapore Airlines. The regional airline began operations 30 years ago with a single jet, but has since grown to a fleet of 33 aircraft, carrying 4.9 million passengers last year. In recent years, however, the company has faced a slew of problems, and is unsure of its future as a regional airline.
The combination of Singapore Airlines and SilkAir gives the airline more flexibility to deploy the right aircraft. As a result, the airline will receive more Boeing 737s, and SilkAir jets will adopt SIA’s livery. The merger will likely reduce overall costs, as the new airline will be able to deploy aircraft that can best serve its customers’ needs. However, the airline will probably still experience significant losses in the coming years as demand for air travel continues to fall.
In 2015, SilkAir adopted its final uniform design, designed by Singapore fashion designer Alexandria Chen. Female cabin crew members wore aqua-blue for junior flight attendants, plum-red for senior flight attendants, and a seagull-patterned georgette bow pin. Male flight attendants wore navy waistcoats and trousers, and a tie in the same color. They also offered complimentary meals on all flights.
Since rebranding in 1997, SilkAir has expanded its fleet from a holidaymaker service to a feeder airline to SIA. It had a dedicated Business Class cabin, and won awards for service standards. SilkAir had a variety of aircraft types, including the narrow-body MI185 that was sold to a rival airline in 1997. SilkAir also operated a number of types of aircraft, including wide-body Airbus A310s in the early 1990s.
A recent 737-800 will feature 12 seats in business class and 150 seats in economy. The new airplanes will feature an upgraded suite of in-flight services, much like SIA. Prior to the merger, SilkAir offered a lower quality of service than SIA, but the 737-800 will provide passengers with similar service as the regional airline. The airline’s first wide-body aircraft was leased from Singapore Airlines, and SilkAir lost money in 1994, 1995, and 1996.
The merger of SilkAir and Singapore Airlines ended the regional airline’s independent operations on May 6, 2021. The two airlines continue to operate test flights of B737-800 jets under the SilkAir code, and full integration is expected to take place within weeks. SilkAir’s final flight was MI411 from Kathmandu to Singapore Changi, operated by a B737-800 9V-MGI. The flight ceased on April 25.
Although all the airlines under SIA are connected, there is a considerable overlap in traffic. About 60% of SIA passengers travel on SilkAir and vice versa. SIA is working to ensure that all the brands are well-positioned in their respective segments, without diluting the premium brand. This means that SilkAir’s fleet size will be downgraded to a more manageable size.
The airline has a strong brand and a good reputation among its customers. The company has an impressive track record of delivering excellent results and has avoided the reactionary behavior typical of low-cost carriers. The airline has also invested in new ventures such as Scoot. However, the future of the company is far from certain. The future of the brand depends on SIA’s ability to continue nurturing its brand promise and innovating while competing against the likes of low-cost carriers.
The airlines’ business models are based on their respective national interests and strategies. Combined, they account for more than 50% of the international passenger capacity. However, they are not the only airlines in Singapore. Singapore Airlines and Tiger Airways are two of the major airlines in Asia. The airline’s share in Tiger Airways is less than 50%, but Qantas is a minority shareholder. This could mean a good opportunity for both companies.
SIA’s branding strategy has been successful in positioning Singapore as a nation. A good half of the airline’s passengers are transit customers. Their experience on SIA creates the perception of a clean, caring and service-oriented country. At the same time, SIA is part of the global airline industry. The airline industry has undergone a drastic shift in recent years. Air travel has become a commodity, with fierce competition on the major routes.