SilkAir has signed a letter of intent to purchase up to 68 new Boeing 737s from the manufacturer. Its 737 order will comprise firm...

SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, has signed a letter of intent to purchase up to 68 new Boeing 737s from the manufacturer.

The order is the largest in SilkAir’s history and remains subject to negotiation of a final purchase agreement. It also represents a future switch for SilkAir from having an all-Airbus A320-family fleet to becoming an all-Boeing 737 operator.

Silkair’s 737 order will comprise firm orders for 54 aircraft and purchase rights for another 14. The carrier will place firm orders for 23 Boeing 737-800s and 31 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets. SilkAir will have the flexibility to switch to other variants within the Boeing 737 product range.

SilkAir committed on August 3, 2012 to order 31 Boeing 737 MAX 8s and 23 Boeing 737-800s, along with purchase rights on 14 more 737s. Boeing valued SilkAir's order, when finalized, at $4.9 billion at list prices

The firm-ordered aircraft are valued at US$4.9 billion based on current Boeing list prices. Deliveries are due to begin in 2014 and continue to 2021, by which time SilkAir’s fleet will have more than doubled in size.

SilkAir currently operates six Airbus A319s and 15 A320s, with three more A320s due for delivery by the end of 2013. The new aircraft will cater for both growth and fleet renewal.

The size of the order reflects SilkAir’s confidence in the Asia-Pacific air travel market, which the carrier reckons will help it maintain annual double-digit percentage growth rates through the end of this decade and beyond, according to SilkAir Chief Executive Marvin Tan.

SilkAir Airbus A320 9V-SLC lands at Penang Bayan Lepas International Airport in Malaysia at the afternoon on April 4, 2010

“We continue to see very strong growth within the region and these new aircraft will position SilkAir well. They will enable us to spread our wings to even more destinations and increase capacity on existing routes, contributing to the overall SIA Group network,” said Tan.

“The selection of the B[oeing] 737 follows detailed evaluations and extensive negotiations with both Airbus and Boeing,” Tan added. “The order will enable us to maintain a young and modern fleet, with an aircraft that has a proven track record of strong customer appeal, excellent reliability and low operating costs.”

The Boeing 737-800 is the best-selling variant in Boeing’s Boeing 737NG family. The Boeing 737 MAX is currently in development and will represent the fourth generation of the 737 product line.