Last week I flew to Seattle compliments of Singapore Airlines so I could witness a momentous occasion for both Boeing and Singapore Airlines’ regional carrier SilkAir. In 2012, SilkAir made an important decision to go from an all Airbus fleet to a Boeing fleet. SilkAir currently flies more than 350 weekly flights to 45 destinations in 12 countries. Fifty percent of SilkAir passengers connect from a Singapore Airlines flight.
SilkAir, which is growing 20% each year, ordered 54 Next Generation 737s and the first one was delivered to them the day after the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl at a huge, raucous ceremony in Renton, Washington, at one of the Boeing factories just outside of Seattle. The ceremony featured a lion dance, a great band and yummy Singaporean treats like coconut rolls.
Organizers also handed everyone in the audience, mostly Boeing employees, scarves in SilkAir colors that had the airline name printed on one side and Boeing 737-800 on the other. It was just a coincidence that SilkAir and the Seahawks share the same colors, green and blue.
On hand was SilkAir’s CEO Leslie Thng who said, “The transition to an all-Boeing fleet will enable us to efficiently serve more destinations, fly longer routes and increase capacity on existing routes.”
Over the coming years, Boeing will deliver a total of 23 737-800s and 31 737 MAX 8s to SilkAir. The 737-800 has 150 economy seats and 12 First Class seats, all with in-seat power and audio. The decision was made after Boeing offered them a deal they couldn’t refuse. These planes are more fuel-efficient and reliable, can go longer distances and can hold up to eight more passengers than their Airbus A320 counterpart. SilkAir will release four of their Airbus planes this year and the last will one will be let go in 2020.
According to Dinesh Keskar, senior vice president of Asia Pacific & India Sales for Boeing, the Next Generation 737 is the most fuel-efficient and reliable single-aisle airplane today.
The 737 features the Boeing Sky Interior, which highlights new modern sculpted sidewalls and window reveals, LED lighting that enhances the sense of spaciousness and larger pivoting overhead stowage bins. Beginning in the second quarter of 2014, SilkAir will offer free Panasonic wireless entertainment that will let passengers stream 20 movies, 10 sitcoms and 100 albums of music.
The first of eight planes to be delivered in 2014 will arrive in Singapore on February 12, just in time for the Singapore Air Show (February 11-16) and the airline’s 25th anniversary on February 21.
The new 737 will enter service on February 20 and fly to the carrier’s existing destinations including Kuala Lumpur and Penang in Malaysia; Phuket, Thailand and Medon, Indonesia. Beginning in March, once the other 737s have been delivered, SilkAir will fly the aircraft to more destinations in Cambodia, Vietnam, India and the Philippines.
Below is my photo gallery of some the week’s highlights.