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SilkAir adds Penang flights from October

SilkAir will add its sixth route next month, with twice-weekly flights from Singapore to Penang in Malaysia

Back in April 2020 all four airlines in Singapore had cut back their passenger flight schedules to a complete bare bones timetable, with very limited destinations and service frequencies offered. SilkAir was no exception, retaining a single route with a once weekly flight through all of April and May 2020.

The carrier was even more harshly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak than its parent Singapore Airlines, seeing a sharper nosedive in flights from mid-March 2020, subsequently operating only eight of its usual 3,600+ services the following month.

SilkAir, which is in the process of being fully merged into SIA’s mainline operation, has added very few passenger services in the meantime with a current network of only five cities – just 2.5% of its pre-COVID capacity by flight volumes.

Penang flights added

Some good news for SilkAir is that the carrier will restart operating twice weekly flights to and from Penang in Malaysia from 25th October 2020.

SilkAir is returning to Penang for the first time since March 2020. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Here’s how the schedule looks:

Penang
(from 25 Oct)
  Days Acft
M T W T F S S
SIN ➔ PEN
MI348
10:00-11:25
738
PEN ➔ SIN
MI347
12:15-13:40
738

These flights will supplement Scoot’s once weekly (Friday) and Jetstar’s once weekly (Sunday) flights between Singapore and Penang, for a total of four services per week on the city pair.

Travel between Singapore and Malaysia is currently approved under a Reciprocal Green Lane arrangement, allowing cross-border movement for essential business and official purposes between both countries, up to a maximum of 14 days’ stay.

A Periodic Commuting Arrangement is also in place for eligible Singapore and Malaysia residents.

The Singapore Airlines Group also has transit flight origin approval from points in Malaysia, allowing those wishing to fly from Penang onward to other destinations on the network to do so.

Other SilkAir routes

These Penang flights will join the current SilkAir network totalling five other cities in the South East Asia / North Asia region.

(click to enlarge)

Operating details on these other routes are as follows.

Cebu
  Days Acft
M T W T F S S
SIN ➔ CEB
MI560
738
CEB ➔ SIN
MI559
738
Chongqing
  Days Acft
M T W T F S S
SIN ➔ CKG
MI972
738
CKG ➔ SIN
MI971
738
Kuala Lumpur
  Days Acft
M T W T F S S
SIN ➔ KUL
MI324
738
KUL ➔ SIN
MI323
738
Medan
  Days Acft
M T W T F S S
SIN ➔ KNO
MI234
738
KNO ➔ SIN
MI233
738
SIN ➔ KNO
MI238
738
KNO ➔ SIN
MI237
738
Phnom Penh
  Days Acft
M T W T F S S
SIN ➔ PNH
MI608
738
PNH ➔ SIN
MI607
738

The addition of Penang services will push SilkAir’s monthly passenger flight total above 100 in November 2020, for the first time since schedules were almost completely axed earlier this year.

(click to enlarge)

As you can see this will still only represent ~3% of the normal schedule, based on November 2019 data.

Singapore Airlines merger

SilkAir is set to be fully integrated into Singapore Airlines over the coming years, a process that will involve the transfer of its Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft across to the mainline carrier, and will ultimately see the 28-year-old brand disbanded.

The first of the carrier’s Boeing 737-800s, 9V-MGA, has already been repainted in Singapore Airlines colours and was spotted in early September, however it has not returned to service.

The first of SilkAir’s Boeing 737-800s are due to move across to Singapore Airlines in late 2020, for entry into service in early 2021.

The 14th SilkAir Boeing 737 MAX 8 (9V-MBN) was also painted in Singapore Airlines livery from the outset of production, though like all the MAX aircraft worldwide it remains in storage awaiting recertification.


© DeltaLAX / Airliners.net

 

Both the Boeing 737 MAX and Boeing 737-800 aircraft are set to get new flat-bed seats in Business Class to more closely align with SIA’s wide-body aircraft. This was confirmed last year to be the Thompson Vantage seat, however no further details have been released nor announcements made for some months.

It has also not been revealed which ex-SilkAir routes will move across to Singapore Airlines first, or whether the Boeing 737-800s will instead initially be deployed on some of SIA’s existing services.

Operating these far cheaper narrow-body aircraft could be an ideal opportunity for SIA to ‘right size’ operation on some of its own regional routes, especially while demand remains low due to COVID-19.

“The integration of SilkAir into SIA will also deliver greater economies of scale for the Group, and allow it to deploy the right aircraft to meet the demand for air travel as it returns.”

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SilkAir’s Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft are still stored at Changi. These will not be transferred to Singapore Airlines and are scheduled to be returned to their lessors in due course.

SilkAir’s Airbus aircraft will not be transferred to Singapore Airlines. (Photo: Jeerapan Jankaew / Shutterstock)

This has resulted in the unfortunate end of SilkAir’s Koh Samui route, operated by the A319. That’s because the airport owner Bangkok Airways restricts larger aircraft from operating there to stifle competition from low-cost carriers, despite the facility being able to easily accomodate the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-800 / MAX 8.

Summary

SilkAir has struggled to lift its schedules since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering the smallest network of all four airlines based in Singapore and the lowest capacity by flight volumes when compared to its previous network.

The addition of Penang as its sixth route lifts the airline’s operation above 3% of normal levels for the first time since those skeleton schedules were adopted in April 2020, with twice weekly flights hopefully benefitting from the essential travel ‘green lane’ between Singapore and Malaysia.

Meanwhile the carrier is preparing to start moving its first Boeing 737-800s across to Singapore Airlines later this year, in the next phase of a full merger into the mainline carrier.

(Cover Photo: Sudpoth Sirirattanasakul / Shutterstock)

2 comments

  1. For those with krisflyer miles,and wish to transit via Singapore.but first sector flight is only service by scoot,any chances to redeem with miles?
    Eg kch-sin-tpe
    Whereby kch-sin is only operated by scoot

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