Update [October 6, 18.09]: SilkAir has clarified that it is not the first Asian airline to operate the aircraft.
SilkAir has introduced the Boeing 737 Max 8 into its fleet, putting it alongside Malindo Air as one of the first Asian airlines to operate the aircraft.
The carrier will have two of the aircraft by end-October. The first flight using the aircraft will be from Singapore to Hiroshima on October 30. The only non-stop route between the two cities will run thrice weekly.
“Hiroshima was one of the stops in our evaluation that showed a very compelling business case,” said Foo Chai Woo, chief executive of SilkAir. “There’s been growing interest in travel into Japan, and Japan has always been very strong in outbound (traffic).”
With 14 per cent fuel savings compared to the Boeing 737 NG, the Max 8 allows the airline to operate flights up to six-and-a-half to seven hours, giving it the opportunity to look at introducing more routes beyond the South-east Asia region, said Captain John Lee, chief pilot Boeing.
The 156-seat Max 8 aircraft will feature an enhanced business class cabin, and refinements such as a 25 per cent increase in seat pitch to 49 inches and additional seat recline from eight to 12 inches.
The economy class seats will feature tablet and phone holders on the seat back and in-seat USB ports.
The inflight entertainment service, SilkAir Studio, has also been upgraded to offer more than 100 international movies.
The cabin is newly furnished with Sky Interior highlights, sculpted sidewalls and LED lighting.
SilkAir expects to operate three Max 8 aircraft by the end of 2017, with another 34 on order. Aside from Hiroshima, the fleet will be deployed on other existing longer-haul destinations such as Cairns, Kathmandu and Bangalore.