With the looming possibility of the re-certification of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 by some regulators, Singapore Airlines (SIA) is monitoring the situation and waiting for a “minimum viable set” of countries to lift the suspension before the flag carrier restarts operation of the narrowbody. 

“Unlike big countries like the US, where airlines can fly immediately in the domestic market once the ban is lifted, Singapore does not have a domestic market and has to look at other countries to lift the ban before we can gainfully deploy the aircraft,” SIA CEO Goh Choon Phong said in a panel at the IATA AGM’s World Air Transport Summit. “However, I do not wish to speculate how long it will take.”

On top of gaining public confidence, he said it is equally important for pilots and cabin crew to also have faith in the aircraft. SIA subsidiary SilkAir has six 737-8s grounded since March, with 31 more on order.

To tackle the fast and high rate of LCC penetration in Southeast Asia, SIA started Scoot in 2011 to participate in the growth of the segment. Goh said it has allowed the airline to be nimble in moving routes and assets in various markets. For example, India’s Bangalore service was transferred from Scoot to SIA, and numerous SilkAir routes were moved to Scoot as the former begins integration with its parent airline, but still maintaining a market presence in the destination. 

Goh added that there should be more communication to the public on the work by the aviation industry in the areas of environment, just as there is a rising trend of anti-aviation sentiments by environment conscious communities, especially in Australia.

“There is no silver bullet to the issue, and there should be a coordinated approach by the industry,” he said. “Airlines could adopt more tangible and measurable efforts.”

Chen Chuanren, chuanren@purplelightvisuals.com