Scoot Will Lease Airbus A320 Jets To Offset Boeing 737 MAX Grounding

To help deal with the effects of the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX, Scoot parent Singapore Airlines Group may lease up to 12 Airbus A320s for the low-cost carrier.

Boeing 737 MAX
The world’s Boeing 737 MAX fleet is currently grounded. Photo: Boeing

As reported on Flight Global today, it has been revealed that the 737 MAX 8 does not appear to feature in the group’s current fleet plan. Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group, Silkair, and Scoot’s fleet will, however, increase from 202 in March 2019 to 207 by March 2020.

Scoot had expected a transfer of 737-800NGs from Silkair

SIA had planned to move a number of 737-800NGs from Silkair to Scoot prior to the 737 MAX grounding. Silkair, which already has six 737 MAX 8s in its fleet, also has 31 more on order. Flight Global cites chief financial officer Stephen Barnes as saying:

“Silkair had expected that it would take delivery of nine 737 Max 8s, but we’re assuming that this is not going to happen in the course of this financial year – but this of course could change.”

Barnes adds, “Silkair will hold onto the 737-800NGs in order to maintain its network.” With Scoot missing out on the transfer of 737-800NGs from Silkair, Barnes confirms:

“We’ll be looking for a replacement aircraft that will probably lead to leasing.”

As part of SIA’s integration of Silkair into its overall branding and product, SIA had planned to add lie-flat seats to Silkair’s 737 MAX 8s. SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong indicated plans for lie-flat seats were still on the cards for 2020, but SIA could not “give an assessment” as to whether a continued grounding might alter these plans.

SIA A350-900
Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A350-900ULR can transport up to 161 passengers between New York and Singapore. Photo: Singapore Airlines.

In regard to the perceived safety of the 737 MAX when it returns to service and any related action by SIA, Goh commented:

“Boeing has to address those concerns not just to authorities, but also, for example, address the concern of pilots who are going to fly the plane, and certainly the public. We will have to see things develop and we will make a decision accordingly.”

Scoot suspends routes due to demand and aircraft shortage

Early May reporting by Nikkei Asian Review showed Scoot suspending four routes as of June 2019, due to a shortage of aircraft. Silkair has also had to cancel flights. Scoot’s official press release on the matter says the suspension of routes from Singapore to Lucknow, Kalibo, Quanzhou, and Male is:

“Due to a combination of weak demand and a shortage of aircraft resources.”

The statement also explains that:

“The aircraft shortage is arising as SilkAir, due to the grounding of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet, will no longer transfer its Boeing 737-800NG aircraft to Scoot in the financial year 2019/2020, as originally announced in November 2018.”

Other airlines affected

Nikkei Asian Review also reports that a number of Asia’s carriers have had to cut routes due to the 737 MAX grounding. Lion Air has had to reallocate aircraft, which may affect the expansion of its Malindo Air. China Southern Airlines, which has 24 737 MAX 8s, may need to revise its growth target, according to analysts.

WestJet Boeing 737 MAX
WestJet has 13 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in its fleet. Photo: WestJet.

Outside of Asia, WestJet has also had to suspend routes and the grounding of the 737 MAX has created a dilemma for Icelandair.

Latest reporting on the 737 MAX points to Boeing engineers having completed a software update for the aircraft, potentially a key milestone towards the 737 MAX’s return.