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SilkAir (Singapore) Private Limited is an airline based in Singaporemarker. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Airlines and operates scheduled passenger services from Singapore to 31 cities in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Chinamarker. As the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, it serves 31 out of 50 short-haul destinations in the Singapore Airlines Group network, and flew 1.56 million passengers in 2006. It made a profit of S$30 million, as turnover rose 20.4% to $415 million.


The airline had its roots as a regional air-charter company in the form of Tradewinds Charters, formed in 1976, and using planes predominantly leased from parent company Singapore Airlines serving leisure destinations. Scheduled services were introduced as Tradewinds Airlines on 21 February, 1989, when it leased McDonnell Douglas MD-87 airplanes for services to six destinations, namely Bandar Seri Begawanmarker, Pattayamarker, Phuketmarker, Hat Yaimarker and Kuantanmarker from Singapore's Changi Airportmarker and Tiomanmarker from Singapore's Seletar Airportmarker. As the carrier matured, regional business destinations such as Jakartamarker, Phnom Penhmarker and Yangonmarker 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 737-300 introduced just a year earlier. The mid-1990s saw two Airbus A310-200 aircraft in use and the expansion of services to Indiamarker 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.

Incidents and accidents

  • On December 19, 1997, SilkAir Flight 185marker, operated by a Boeing 737-300 and piloted by Captain Tsu Way Ming, plunged into the Musi River in Sumatramarker during a routine flight from Jakartamarker to Singaporemarker, killing all 104 people on board. The Indonesian NTSC ruled that the cause of the accident could not be determined, while the United States NTSB concluded that the incident was "consistent with ... intentional pilot action". There was no conclusive evidence to support suicidal motives, and a subsequent court case concluded that the crash was caused by a defective servo valve in the plane's rudder, resulting in a rudder hard-over. Lawsuits and counter-suits filed by Boeing and Singapore Airlines against each other over the rudder issue was eventually withdrawn by both parties.



SilkAir began operations with 2 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 1991. It operated two Airbus A310-200s for a brief period from 1993 to 1995 before they were transferred to Singapore Airlines, and two Fokker F70 from 1995 to 2000. It began replacing its Boeing fleet with Airbus aircraft when the first Airbus A320-200 arrived in 1998, and retired all Boeing aircraft a year later.

Today, the SilkAir fleet, with an average of 5.5 years in operation, consists of the following aircraft :

SilkAir Fleet
Aircraft Total Orders Options Passengers
Airbus A319 6 4 0 118 (12/106)
120 (8/112)
Short haul
Airbus A320 10 6 9 142 (16/126)
144 (12/132)
Short haul

On 20 December, 2006, SilkAir signed an agreement to purchase 11 Airbus A320-200 aircraft with nine more on option. These aircraft will be delivered between 2009-2012 .



There are only two classes of cabins available on all SilkAir flights - business class and economy class.
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 to 40 inches and legroom of 19.3 inches.Business class passengers now get to enjoy leather seats.

Economy Class

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



SilkAir offers Oriental and Western menus which emphasise on flavours of the region. Local delights such as Hainanese chicken rice, laksa, mee siam and mee rebus are available on selected flights.


SilkAir offers a selection of short story books and magazine titles on board and screens a series of short features on their inflight screens.

Codeshare partners

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.


  1. SilkAir website - New corporate identity
  2. SilkAir: SilkAir Experience - Inflight Entertainment
  3. Historic Fleets of SilkAir
  4. Singapore Airlines Annual Report 0809
  5. SilkAir website - Airbus orders

External links

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