No change to SilkAir's order of 31 B-737 Max planes

But no collection of jets, which the airline has grounded, expected in near future: SIA chief

SilkAir's order of 31 Boeing 737 Max planes remains "intact", although the airline may not collect any of the planes in the near future.

Capacity planning for the current financial year, which ends in March next year, does not include any new B-737 Max jets for SilkAir, said Singapore Airlines chief executive Goh Choon Phong yesterday.

The initial plan was for SilkAir to pick up nine B-737 Max planes this year.

The six jets already in the fleet have been grounded since March.

Mr Goh said they will fly again only after being certified safe by regulators in Singapore and in countries that SilkAir flies the planes to.

Many airlines, including SilkAir, had grounded the B-737 Max in the wake of two crashes that involved the jet - the first in Indonesia last October, and the second in March this year in Ethiopia.

THE CHOICE IS CLEAR

I believe, though, that our customers will be understanding because between operating an aircraft that is deemed to be not safe and one that is tested but perhaps not with a product as good as what we have in the new planes, I think the choice is clear.

MR GOH CHOON PHONG, chief executive of Singapore Airlines, on deploying some older planes in place of new, well-kitted ones that have been grounded for safety reasons.

On Thursday, aircraft manufacturer Boeing announced it has fixed a software glitch which may have caused the crashes.

But the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States, among other authorities, will have to first review the software before the plane takes to the air again.

 
 
 
 

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore is part of an FAA international team, that also includes representatives from other countries such as Canada and China, to review the safety of the plane.

Speaking to reporters and analysts a day after SIA reported a 47.5 per cent drop in profits to $683 million for the year to end-March, Mr Goh said SIA will pay close attention to the developments of the 737 Max software update.

In the meantime, SIA and other airlines affected by the grounding have had to adjust their operations, including cancelling flights.

The Singapore carrier is also troubled by issues with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 TEN engine that affects both the parent airline and its low-cost arm, Scoot.

Last month, The Straits Times reported that SIA had grounded two of its nine Boeing 787-10 aircraft due to engine issues.

To address a capacity shortfall from the B-737 Max and B-787 groundings, Scoot is looking to lease between 10 and 12 Airbus A320s over the next two financial years. SIA will also deploy some of its older planes.

Mr Goh admits it could impact the overall customer experience if new planes fitted with new products are grounded.

"I believe, though, that our customers will be understanding because between operating an aircraft that is deemed to be not safe and one that is tested but perhaps not with a product as good as what we have in the new planes, I think the choice is clear."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2019, with the headline 'No change to SilkAir's order of 31 B-737 Max planes'. Print Edition | Subscribe