SILKAIR, the regional arm of Singapore Airlines (SIA), will work with Irish aircraft seat maker Thomson Aero Seating to upgrade its cabins, ahead of a merger with SIA.
The works will start from May 2020, the airline said on Monday.
The upgrades on SilkAir's Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet will feature new lie-flat business class seats in a forward-facing staggered layout. This is in line with SIA's regional business class offering on its Airbus A350-900 medium-haul and Boeing 787-10 fleets.
SilkAir currently has five 737 MAX 8s, with another 32 on order. The new seats will be retrofitted in the existing aircraft, and installed in the new aircraft when they arrive in Singapore.
In May 2018, SIA announced a more than S$100 million programme to upgrade SilkAir's products.
The investment is part of a move to more closely align SilkAir's products and services with those of SIA in preparation for its merger with SIA.
The merger will eventually encompass a full re-branding of SilkAir as SIA, with repainting of aircraft and adoption of SIA's service delivery. No date has been announced yet for the merger.
The upgrade programme will also see the installation of new seat-back in-flight entertainment systems in both business and economy class.
The Straits Times first reported on a possible merger between the two carriers in August 2017 when part of SilkAir's finance operations went to SIA. It was said then that this would likely pave the way for further consolidation and eventually, a full merger.
The merger follows a similar consolidation between the SIA group's budget carriers. In July 2017, Tigerair was folded into Scoot to drive commercial and operational synergies between the two airlines.
THE STRAITS TIMES