Where Will Singapore Airlines Fly The Boeing 737 MAX?

With subsidiary SilkAir getting absorbed into the Singapore Airlines mainline fleet, Singapore Airlines is picking up several 737 MAXs from the deal. SilkAir had six Boeing 737 MAX 8s.  On top of that, the airline had a further 31 MAXs still on order. That’s quite a lot of smaller narrowbody Boeings for a legacy airline more used to bigger planes like Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s. So, where can we expect these new Singapore Airlines 737 MAXs to fly?

Singapore Airlines will start flying Boeing 737 MAXs in the near future. Photo: pjs2005 via Wikimedia Commons

Where did the SilkAir MAXs fly?

A good place to start is to look at where SilkAir used to fly the MAX before it was grounded. Until the MAX grounding in March 2019, SilkAir deployed the 737 MAX to around ten regional destinations. They included Bangalore and Hyderabad in India, Kathmandu in Nepal, Chongqing and Fuzhou in China, Hiroshima in Japan, Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Phuket in Thailand, Kuala Lumpar in Malaysia, and Darwin and Cairns in Australia.

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Between the MAX grounding and the 2020 travel downturn, there’s no guarantee Singapore Airlines will want to fly to all of these cities in the future, or if it does, put the 737 MAX on the route.

But as was reported in Simple Flying, the arrival of the MAXs could prove a stroke of luck for Singapore Airlines. Or at the very least, a nice piece of timing.

A 737 MAX 8 in SilkAir livery. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons

A nice bit of timing for Singapore Airlines

While not cleared to fly around Asia just yet, the Federal Aviation Administration has cleared the MAX to resume flying in the United States. While most jurisdictions are loathe to admit being unduly influenced by FAA decisions, they are undoubtedly influential. With the MAX cleared to fly around the United States, many other countries will soon start giving the plane the tick of approval.

That means Singapore Airlines’ 737 MAXs won’t stay sitting on the tarmac at Changi (or parked down in Alice Springs) for too much longer.

While Singapore Airlines has operated Boeing 737s before (back in the 1970s, they had a handful of them), the airline is better known for its big planes. However, as Singapore Airlines is learning to its cost, big planes don’t necessarily suit the traveling environment right now.

Singapore Airlines has parked its fleet of A380s and the majority of its Boeing 777s. The planes are simply too big for current market demand. But a smaller 737 might be the perfect plane for Singapore Airlines over the next two or three years.

Is the 737 MAX the right sized plane at the right time?

In a nutshell, the 737 MAX is the right sized plane that’s come at the right time for Singapore Airlines. There are a host of intriguing possibilities when it comes to destinations.  The 737-8 MAX has a range of over 6,500 kilometers. That won’t get you to London in one hop, but it will get you to many places.

Source: gcmap.com

Out of range is Sydney, Seoul, or Dubai, but as the map above illustrates, the 6,500-kilometer range comfortably covers all of China, India, South East Asia, and most of Australia.

While the big planes sit parked and the medium-sized planes fly to destinations previously served by the A380s, the 737 MAX could line up nicely to take off to secondary cities around the region – cities like Kota Kinabalu, Denpasar, Adelaide, Nagoya, Cebu, and Da Nang.

Despite all its travails, the 737 MAX may prove to be the perfect plane for the times. It would be good news for Singapore Airlines and have Boeing’s senior management jumping for joy. As 2021 rolls out, it will be interesting to see where Singapore Airlines sends its MAXs.