Singapore Airlines Limited (SIA) is the flag carrier of Singapore. Singapore Airlines operates a hub at Changi Airport and has a strong presence in the Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and "Kangaroo Route" markets. The company also operates trans-Pacific flights, including the world's two longest non-stop commercial flights from Singapore to Newark and Los Angeles on the Airbus A340-500.
Singapore Airlines was the launch customer of Airbus A380, currently the world's largest passenger airliner. SIA has diversified airline-related businesses, such as aircraft handling and engineering. Its wholly owned subsidiary, SilkAir, manages regional flights to secondary cities with smaller capacity requirements. Subsidiary Singapore Airlines Cargo operates SIA's dedicated freighter fleet, and manages the cargo-hold capacity in SIA's passenger aircraft. SIA has a 49% shareholding in Virgin Atlantic and engages the low-cost carrier sector through its stake in Tiger Airways. It ranks amongst the top 15 carriers worldwide in terms of revenue passenger kilometres, and 10th in the world for international passengers carried. On December 15, 2010, Singapore Airlines was announced by the International Air Transport Association as the world's second largest airline in the world by market capitalisation with a worth of 14 billion dollars.
History Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines began with the incorporation of Malayan Airlines (MAL) on 1 May 1947, by the Ocean Steamship Company of Liverpool, the Straits Steamship Company of Singapore and Imperial Airways. The airline's first flight was a chartered flight from the British Straits Settlement of Singapore to Kuala Lumpur on 2 April 1947 using an Airspeed Consul twin-engined airplane. Regular weekly scheduled flights quickly followed from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Penang from 1 May 1947 with the same aircraft type. The airline continued to expand during the rest of the 1940s and 1950s, as other British Commonwealth airlines (such as BOAC and Qantas Empire Airways) provided technical assistance, as well as assistance in joining IATA. By 1955, Malayan Airways' fleet had grown to include a large number of Douglas DC-3s, and went public in 1957. Other aircraft operated in the first two decades included the Douglas DC-4 Skymaster, the Vickers Viscount, the Lockheed 1049 Super Constellation, the Bristol Britannia, the de Havilland Comet 4 and the Fokker F27.
When Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak formed the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, the airline's name was changed, from "Malayan Airways" to "Malaysian Airways". MAL also took over Borneo Airways. In 1966, following Singapore's separation from the federation, the airline's name was changed again, to Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (MSA). The next year saw a rapid expansion in the airline's fleet and route, including the purchase of MSA's first Boeing aircraft, the Boeing 707s, as well the completion of a new high-rise headquarters in Singapore. Boeing 737s were added to the fleet soon after.
MSA ceased operations in 1972, when political disagreements between Singapore and Malaysia resulted in the formation of two entities: Singapore Airlines and Malaysian Airlines System. Singapore Airlines kept all 10 of MSA's Boeing 707s and 737s, retained the international routes out of Singapore as well as the existing corporate headquarters in the city, with J.Y. Pillay, former joint chief of MSA as its first chairperson. Female flight attendants continued to wear the sarong kebaya uniform, which had been first introduced in 1968. A local start-up advertising company, Batey Ads was given the right to market the airline, eventually selecting the sarong and kebaya-clad air stewardesses as an icon for the airline and calling them Singapore Girls.
SIA saw rapid growth during the 1970s, adding cities in the Indian subcontinent and Asia, and adding Boeing 747s to its fleet. Mr Yong Nyuk Lin, then Minister for Communications at the welcoming ceremony of the first two SIA-Boeing 747s at Paya Lebar Airport on Monday 3 September 1973 at 1600 hours was quoted thus:
"May I emphasise that SIA as an organisation will continue to succeed only so long as the men and women behind it will not relax but continue to work diligently, plan boldly, and strive for excellence in performance."
The 1980s saw the new services to United States, Canada, and European cities with Madrid becoming the first Hispanic city to be served by SIA. Boeing 747-400s were introduced into the SIA fleet in 1989 and named Megatops. They were later complemented by Boeing 777s, Airbus A310s and Airbus A340s. Services were extended to southern Africa in the 1990s, when the airline began flights to Johannesburg in South Africa. The cities of Cape Town and Durban were subsequently introduced to the route network. In 2011, it extend to Sao Paulo in Brazil marking the airline's first South America destination as well as being the 10th airline to fly to all 6 inhabited continents.
The airline has invested in other airlines in a bid to expand beyond its Singapore base, although the results are often financially negative. In 1989, it went into a tripartite alliance with Delta Air Lines and Swissair, but terminated their partnership in 1999 after divesting their 5% equity stake in each other's company. The airline purchased 25% of Air New Zealand in 2000. However following the near collapse of Air New Zealand the New Zealand government bought into the airline to rescue it from bankruptcy, reducing Singapore Airlines' stake to 4.5%. This was subsequently sold in October 2004 at a substantial loss.
SIA bought a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic Airways on 30 March 2000 worth 600 million pounds in cash in the hope of leveraging on it on the lucrative transatlantic market, but by 2007, there has been reports of underperformance and the possibility of divesting its stake. On 14 May 2008, the company formally announced an invitation for offers for its Virgin Atlantic stake, and publicly acknowledged that its stake in the airline has "underperformed". In September 2004, the airline entered the low-cost carrier market by establishing Tiger Airways with a 49% stake, in partnership with Indigo Partners LLC, the investment firm founded by Bill Franke, (24%); Irelandia Investments Limited, the private investment arm of Tony Ryan and his family, (16%); and Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd (11%). Tiger Airways was eventually listed on SGX in Feb 2010, reducing SIA shares to 34.4%.