Starting out as an entity formed by a partnership between two steamboat companies and Imperial Airways, Singapore Airlines grew from relatively humble beginnings to become a global force in the long-haul market.
Today, Singapore Airlines is well-known for its accolades, but, as Simple Flying explores, Singapore’s path to greatness wasn’t always straightforward. The airline owes its beginnings to an alliance between two steamship companies and Imperial Airways, a British commercial airline.
1957 – A Malay Start-up
Initially called Malayan Airways, the airline served destinations in Malacca and adjacent British colonies and grew, from its founding in 1947, to grow and add services across Indonesia and Borneo.
Fortunes of the early carrier were entwined with the region’s political history and, in 1963, “when the territories of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah, and Sarawak combined to form the Federation of Malaysia, the airline rebranded from Malayan Airways to Malaysian Airways,” Simple Flying explains.
When Singapore exited the Federation of Malaysia in 1965, the airline again re-branded from Malaysian Airways to Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (MSA). Around this time, the airline also purchased its very first Boeing craft, the 707.
1972 – Decision or Bust
The early 1970s proved to be a watershed moment for the then Malaysia-Singapore Airlines. Unable to make a decision over whether to focus on domestic Malaysian routes or to expand internationally, MSA ceased operations and two new carriers were formed: Singapore Airlines and Malaysian Airlines System. The latter would later become Malaysia’s flag carrier.
This period saw Singapore enter a period of expansion, including the acquisition of two Boeing 747s and the commencement of a Concorde service. The late 1980s would see the airline debut SilkAir, its short-haul service, but by 2004, the carrier became known for offering what was then the world’s longest service: connecting Singapore to New York.
2007 – The Year of the A380
2007, of course, saw the carrier become the launch customer of the A380. With the added room on board, they began experimenting with the luxury suites that’s helped to make Singapore Airlines an industry leader in luxury offerings and dominate the global long-haul market.