Singapore Airlines (SIA) has unveiled plans to merge its regional full service subsidiary SilkAir into the parent airline in the next decade, following a major cabin product upgrade project that will involve retrofitting SilkAir’s entire fleet with lie-flat business class seats. Seatback inflight entertainment systems will also be installed as SIA upgrades SilkAir’s current product to SIA’s higher standards, resulting in a more seamless experience for the group’s full service passengers.
Once the more than USD100 million narrowbody retrofit programme is complete, SIA will have the distinction of offering lie-flat business class seats across the group's full service fleet. Earlier this year SIA announced the introduction of lie-flat business class seats on its regional widebody fleet as new 787-10s and regional A350-900s are delivered to replace A330-300s and older 777 variants, which are fitted with an outdated angled flat product.
SIA Group’s decision to upgrade its full service narrowbody product is sensible, given the large – and growing – product gap between the SilkAir narrowbody and Singapore Airlines' widebody fleets. Competitors have also been improving their narrowbody product, forcing SIA to make a move.
Meanwhile, the absorption of SilkAir into SIA should enable the group to reduce costs and improve efficiency as the number of operator's certificates, which just a year ago stood at five, is reduced to only two. The SIA Group has already merged the short haul LCC Tigerair with the long haul LCC Scoot and folded SIA Cargo back into SIA; the folding of SilkAir into SIA was inevitable.