Singapore Airlines’ full-service regional subsidiary, SilkAir, has been folded into the Singapore Airlines brand.
Singapore Airlines will gradually take over service on SilkAir’s existing routes, starting with flights from Singapore to Phuket from 4 March 2021. Nine of SilkAir’s Boeing 737-800 aircraft will eventually be transferred to its parent company, which will begin operating the narrow-body aircraft instead of SilkAir.
Until now, the entire Singapore Airlines fleet has been comprised of wide-body aircraft including Boeing 777s, Boeing 787s, Airbus A330s, Airbus A350s and Airbus A380s. With the introduction of Boeing 737s to Singapore Airlines – whose 12 Business class seats offer 8 inches of recline – the airline can no longer claim it offers lie-flat beds in Business Class on every flight.
Although the merger has been finalised as many of both airlines’ flights are grounded due to COVID-19, it had already been planned well before the pandemic began. The merge has been planned since 2018. Following that announcement, some of the previous SilkAir routes were transferred to Singapore Airlines’ low-cost subsidiary, Scoot.
SilkAir’s two routes to Australia, from Singapore to Darwin and Cairns, will likely be taken over by Singapore Airlines when regular services eventually resume. Both routes would continue to be served by Boeing 737s.
What does this change mean for frequent flyers?
Although SilkAir has been a full-service regional airline since it began operations in 1992, it was viewed by some as the “poor cousin” of Singapore Airlines. As well as the condition of its aircraft and inferior on-board catering and service standards, a common complaint was that SilkAir was not a part of Star Alliance.
Singapore Airlines is addressing some of these concerns by reupholstering the seats on its ex-SilkAir planes. It will also introduce the Singapore Airlines dining experience on regional flights, including “Book the Cook” and, on flights over 5 hours (e.g. to Cairns or Hiroshima), satay skewers for Business Class passengers. These regional flights will also now be staffed by Singapore Airlines cabin crew wearing that airline’s uniform and KrisWorld in-flight entertainment will be available to passengers’ own devices via in-flight streaming.
As Singapore Airlines’ regional operations will now be under the Singapore Airlines brand, these flights will also now be part of the Star Alliance network. This is good news for members of Star Alliance frequent flyer programs like Air New Zealand Airpoints or United MileagePlus, who will now be able to earn miles and access Star Alliance Silver & Gold status benefits including lounge access.
Singapore Airlines has temporarily blocked frequent flyers of partner airlines from accessing its award availability during the pandemic. But when Singapore Airline reinstates Star Alliance partner airline access to its award inventory, there will be even more options for Star Alliance frequent flyers who will be able to redeem miles and access Star Alliance upgrade awards on Singapore Airlines Boeing 737 regional flights.
Singapore Airlines’ own KrisFlyer members will also now be able to combine regional flights and Star Alliance partner airline flights on a single award ticket – something that was not previously possible with SilkAir.
There are no practical implications for Virgin Australia Velocity members, however, as SilkAir was always a Velocity Frequent Flyer partner alongside Singapore Airlines anyway.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Silk Air to be merged into SQ brand