IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1976 (as Tradewinds Charters)
Commenced operations 1992
Hubs Singapore Changi Airport
Frequent-flyer program KrisFlyer
Airport lounge KrisFlyer Gold Lounge, SilverKris Lounge
Fleet size 31
Destinations 51
Company slogan A joy to fly
Parent company Singapore Airlines
Headquarters Singapore
Key people Foo Chai Woo (CEO)[1]
Revenue Increase S$965.7 million (FY 2015/16)
Operating income Increase S$90.6 million (FY 2015/16)
Net income Increase S$122.0 million (FY 2015/16)
Employees 1,573 (31 March 2016)

SilkAir (Singapore) Private Limited[2] is a regional airline with its head office in Airline House in Singapore;[3] previously it was on the fifth storey of the SIA Superhub in Singapore.[4] It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Airlines and operates scheduled passenger services from Singapore to 51 cities in Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, China and Australia.

As the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, it serves the short-haul destinations in the Singapore Airlines Group network. For the year ending 31 March 2015, the airline flew over 3.5 million passengers and made an operating profit of S$40.8 million.[5]

As of 31 March 2015, SilkAir employs 1,452 staff.


The airline had its roots as a regional air-charter company as Tradewinds Charters formed in 1975,[6] serving leisure destinations using planes predominantly leased from parent airline Singapore Airlines. Scheduled services were introduced as Tradewinds Airlines on 21 February 1989, when it leased McDonnell Douglas MD-87 aeroplanes for services to 6 destinations: Bandar Seri Begawan, Pattaya, Phuket, Hat Yai and Kuantan from Singapore's Changi International Airport and Tioman from Singapore's Seletar Airport. As the carrier matured, regional business destinations such as Jakarta, Phnom Penh and Yangon were added to its network, thereby broadening the airline's appeal beyond the holiday-maker to include the business traveller.

A major marketing overhaul was started in 1991, culminating on 1 April 1992, by giving the airline its present name and logo as a new corporate identity. The re-branded airline utilised up to six of the new Boeing 737-300s introduced just a year earlier. The mid-1990s saw two Airbus A310-200 aircraft in use and the expansion of services to India as well as mainland China. It was the first Asian carrier to offer handheld portable video-on-demand (VOD) in-flight entertainment in the form of the DigEplayer 5500, available on flights to selected countries.[7]

On 10 April 2015, SilkAir launched a new collection of uniforms, the fourth uniform change in over 26 years. There are two variations of the uniform - aqua-blue for junior crew and a plum-red version for senior crew. Both variations are accompanied by a dark blue skirt.[8]

The key business trends for SilkAir are shown in the following table, for each financial year ending 31 March:

Year ending 31 March:
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Total Revenue (S$m) 546.3 538.5 670.3 750.8 846.0 856.6 902.5 965.7
Operating Profit (S$m) 33.6 49.2 121.4 104.6 96.7 34.5 40.8 90.6
Passengers carried (thousands) 1,954 2,356 2,764 3,032 3,295 3,411 3,553 3,836
- passenger change year-on-year Increase20.6% Increase17.3% Increase9.7% Increase8.7% Increase3.5% Increase4.2% Increase8.0%
Passenger load factor (%) 72.5 77.1 76.4 75.7 73.6 69.6 70.2 71.5
Number of aircraft (at year end) 16 18 18 20 22 24 27 29
Number of staff (at year end) 876 944 1,116 1,192 1,360 1,462 1,452 1,573
Sources [9][10] [9][11] [9][11] [9] [9] [12] [5] [13]


Main article: SilkAir destinations

SilkAir currently flies from Singapore to 50 destinations within an approximate seven-hour radius around the region.

Codeshare agreements

SilkAir codeshares with the following airlines:[14]


SilkAir Airbus A320 at Davao International Airport, Philippines.

SilkAir began operations with two leased McDonnell Douglas MD-87 aircraft in 1989, before investing in its own fleet of six Boeing 737-300s, the first of which began operations in 1997. It operated two Airbus A310-200s for a brief period from 1993 to 1995 before they were transferred to Singapore Airlines, and two Fokker 70s from 1995 to 2000. It began replacing its Boeing fleet with Airbus aircraft when the first Airbus A320-200 arrived on 18 September 1998, and retired all Boeing aircraft a year later.[15] Soon after its first A320 was delivered, SilkAir took delivery of its first A319-100 aircraft on 3 September 1999. The A319 is currently utilised on certain routes within Southeast Asia, and to some cities in India, while the larger A320 is used on most of the airline's major routes. On 20 December 2006, SilkAir signed an agreement to purchase 11 Airbus A320-200 aircraft with nine more on option. These aircraft were delivered between 2009-2012.[16]

On 3 August 2012, SilkAir had signed a letter of intent with Boeing for a purchase of 68 aircraft. The agreement includes a firm order for 23 Boeing 737-800s and 31 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, and purchase rights for another 14 aircraft.[17] On 14 November 2012, the commitment was then converted to a firm order.[18] The 737 aircraft will be used to replace the older A320 fleet and for the expansion of the airline. On 4 February 2014, SilkAir received its first Boeing 737-800 aircraft.[19]

As of 31 October 2016, the SilkAir fleet consisted of the following aircraft:[20]

SilkAir Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
J Y Total
Airbus A319-100
Replacement Aircraft: Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737 MAX 8
Airbus A320-200
Boeing 737-800
Deliveries until 2017.
Boeing 737 MAX 8
Total 31 38

Loyalty Programs

SilkAir shares the KrisFlyer frequent flyer program with its parent company, Singapore Airlines.[21] However, unlike Singapore Airlines, SilkAir is not a member of Star Alliance, so frequent flyer miles on SilkAir flights may only credited on the KrisFlyer programme, but not on other Star Alliance frequent flyer programs.[22]


There are two classes of cabins available on all SilkAir flights—Business class and Economy class.

Past SilkAir A320-200 Economy Class cabin

Business Class

Business class cabins are available on all SilkAir flights. The business-class cabins offer a seat pitch of between 39 and 40 inches and legroom of 19.3 inches. Business class passengers now receive leather seats which are on all Airbus 319s, Airbus 320s and Boeing 737-800.

Economy Class

All economy class cabins on SilkAir have a seat pitch of 31 inches and legroom of 12 inches. Economy class now features a new autumn colour scheme.

On-board amenities


SilkAir offers Oriental and Western menus. Light snacks are also available on selected flights of less than one and a half hours.


SilkAir offers a selection of magazine titles on board and screens a series of short features on their 11-inch inflight screens. The Silkwinds inflight magazine is complimentary for all passengers. In-seat audio is also available on the Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

SilkAir Studio

Passengers on SilkAir flights that provides wireless streaming will be able to stream blockbuster hits, short features, as well as chart-topping music to their personal laptops and handheld devices via Wi-Fi. This system will complement the existing overhead systems. Passengers in Business Class on flights more than two hours will be offered a tablet.

Tradewinds Tours and Travel

Tradewinds Tours and Travel Private Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of SilkAir, providing package tours to destinations flown by the airline, as well as chartered flights within the Asia region. The company was incorporated in 1975, and became a fully licensed tour operator in 1984.

SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, was once known as Tradewinds Charters at its founding in 1976, before earning its present name in 1991. The chartered operations were hence continued to be handled by Tradewinds Tours and Travel.

Incidents and accidents

On 19 December 1997, SilkAir Flight 185, operated by a Boeing 737-300 and piloted by Captain Tsu Way Ming, plunged into the Musi River in Sumatra during a routine flight from Jakarta to Singapore, killing all 104 people on board. The crash was investigated by various groups, with different results. The Indonesian NTSC, who were lead investigators, stated that they were unable to determine the cause, while the US NTSB concluded that the crash resulted from an intentional act by a pilot, most likely the captain.[23][24] A civil lawsuit case against Parker Hannifin, the manufacturer of the PCU-dual servo unit essential in the 737's rudder control—and also suspected in causing the crashes of United Airlines Flight 585 and USAir Flight 427 under similar flight-event parameters, had provided the NTSB the initial test results of the recovered PCU-dual servo unit from Flight 185 in 1997, but was later further independently investigated for litigation on behalf some families of Flight 185 passengers in a civil lawsuit against Parker Hannifin.[25] The jury under the Superior Court in Los Angeles in 2004, which was not allowed to hear or consider the NTSB conclusions, decided that the crash was caused by a prominent issue inherent in other 737 crashes: a defective servo valve inside the Power Control Unit (PCU) which controls the aircraft's rudder, causing a rudder hard-over and a subsequent uncontrollable crash. The manufacturer of the aircraft's rudder controls and the families later reached an out of court settlement.


  1. "SilkAir appoints new chief executive". The Business Times. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  2. "Singapore Airlines Annual Report 2009/2010" (PDF). Singapore Airlines. p. 67.
  3. "Singapore Air Operators." (Archive) Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore. Retrieved on 31 October 2012. "05-D Airline House, 25 Airline Road, Singapore 819829"
  4. "Directory: World airlines." Flight Global. 30 March-5 April 2004. p. 68. "Core L, 5th Storey, SIA Superhub 1, 30 Airlines Road"
  5. 1 2 "Singapore Airlines Annual Report 2014/2015" (PDF).
  7. "Inflight Entertainment". SilkAir.
  8. "SilkAir Takes to the Skies in a Sophisticated New Look".
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 "Singapore Airlines Annual Report 2012/13" (PDF). Singapore Airlines Group. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  10. "Singapore Airlines Annual Report 2008/09" (PDF). Singapore Airlines Group. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  11. 1 2 "Singapore Airlines Annual Report 2010/11" (PDF). Singapore Airlines Group. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  12. "Singapore Airlines Annual Report 2013/2014" (PDF).
  13. "Singapore Airlines Annual Report 2014/2015" (PDF).
  14. "Profile on SilkAir". CAPA. Centre for Aviation. Archived from the original on 2016-10-29. Retrieved 2016-10-29.
  15. "Airfleets: SilkAir".
  16. "SilkAir Places New Order For 20 Airbus A320 Planes, To Meet Growth And Fleet Renewal" (Press release). SilkAir. 20 December 2006. Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  17. Toh, Mavis (3 August 2012). "SilkAir signs LOI for 31 Boeing 737-8s, 23 737-800s". Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  18. "Boeing, SilkAir Finalize Order for 54 737s" (Press release). Boeing. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  19. "Boeing, SilkAir Begins Transition to All 737 Fleet" SilkAir. retrieved 6 February 2014.
  20. "List of Aircraft on Singapore Register". Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore. 31 October 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  21. Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
  22. Final flight: SilkAir (PDF), Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), archived from the original (PDF) on 27 June 2013
  23. Chew, Valerie (30 September 2009). "Crash of SilkAir Flight MI 185". National Library Board. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
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