Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) LCC subsidiary Scoot will begin introducing sister company SilkAir’s Boeing 737-800s after April 2019 as part of SIA Group plans to optimize the airline’s network and better compete against regional LCCs.

Scoot CEO Lee Lik Hsin spoke to the media during the inaugural flight of its Airbus A320neo Oct. 29.

SIA announced in May 2018 that SilkAir will merge with the parent company from 2020, but will still retain its Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

However, it is likely that Scoot’s potential 737-800s will be a stopgap measure as Scoot waits to receive the remaining 38 A320neos by 2025. The second A320neo will arrive by the end of 2018 and will only receive around three more aircraft within the next two to three years because of a long backlog behind other regional airlines with bigger orders.

Scoot currently operates 18 787-8/9s, along with 23 A320ceo and two A319s inherited from the Tigerair merger in 2017. Lee said some 737s from SilkAir would help fulfill the airline’s plan to have 70 aircraft by 2022. SilkAir currently has 17 737-800s in service, which were delivered between 2014 and 2016.

There are currently no plans to exercise options for 11 A320neos.

Scoot’s A320neo was delivered Oct. 8 and its cabin crew underwent familiarization and training prior to the inaugural flight to Bangkok.  The aircraft is configured with 186 seats in a single-class configuration. Scoot was able to add six seats to the aircraft as the airline opted for the Airbus Space-Flex and Smart-Lav cabin product, pushing the bulkhead further back to the rear and rearranging the two lavatories and galley into a single row. Airbus estimates the six seats could generate $1 million in revenue annually.

Scoot also worked with Airbus to design a new storage compartments for safety equipment, thus freeing up overhead storage space for customers.

The airline will deploy the A320neo to Hong Kong, Macau, Taipei and India’s Tiruchirappalli.

Lee is unfazed by the various issues faced by the Pratt & Whitney GTF engines, and said its A320neos are fitted with the latest engine updates and improvements from Pratt.

“We are getting updates from the manufacturers and getting lessons from other operators,” he said. “We are hopeful that the worst is over.”

Lee said Scoot has grounded an unspecified number of Boeing 787s for inspections as a result of the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine issues that have affected numerous operators, and SIA has mitigated the issue by leasing a single 777-200. He added this would carry on for up to three months.

Scoot has 18 787-8/9s in service and has two 787-9s on order. Lee said the airline has taken in Dreamliners at a rate of two aircraft annually and will likely see a similar rate for more 787s in the next few years.

“We have, in fact, catered to our 787 growth in the latest SIA 787-10 order [for 49 of the type],” Lee said, adding there is an option to downsize to the 787-8/9 should the group need to exercise it.

chuanren@purplelightvisuals.com