SIA quits Penang-Singapore route after 30 years

Eddie Chua & Christina Chin
The Star

After three decades of serving the Penang-Singapore air route, Singapore Airlines (SIA) has finally called it a day.

SIA decided to terminate its flights between the two islands on Dec 1 with the emergence of several budget airlines on the route.

“The mushrooming of the budget airlines in this region had eroded the traditional airline market, like the Penang-Singapore sector,” an industry insider said.

SilkAir, SIA’s regional wing, has taken over the route. SilkAir now flies three times daily between the two islands.

“The termination of the Singapore-Penang route was also to enable the airline to downsize its operation in Malaysia,” said the source.

Of the 38 SIA staff in Penang, 18 had been “transferred” to SilkAir.

Apart from SilkAir, Jetstar Airways and Tiger Airways are also servicing the Penang-Singapore sector.

Both airlines, using Airbus A320, have two flights daily to and from Penang.

The sector is also serviced by AirAsia and national carrier Malaysia Airlines. Both airlines have one flight daily to Singapore.

SIA used to have three flights daily to Penang when it first flew to the island 30 years ago.

However, its frequency was reduced to two flights daily in the late 2007 before it was further reduced to one flight daily with the emergance of SilkAir.

SilkAir manager (Penang) Boris Mak said the transfer of operations to SilkAir was done with the aim to better optimise the SIA Group’s resources.

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