Singapore Airlines regional subsidiary SilkAir has introduced the Boeing 737 MAX 8 to Australia with inaugural flights to Darwin and Cairns.
The airline took the first of 37 MAX 8s in October last year and plans to use the fuel-efficient planes to expand its reach across Asia.
It landed the first MAX 8 service in Darwin on Sunday and followed through with a Cairns flight on Monday
With a nominal range of 3515 nautical miles (6510kms), the Max 8 can fly further than its predecessor and airlines have already started using it on routes previously reserved for bigger aircraft.
SilkAir is using the planes on longer-haul routes such as Darwin, Hiroshima, Kathmandu and Hyderabad.
The planes are 14 per cent more efficient than the latest Boeing 737NGs and 20 per cent more efficient than the planes that introduced the type in 1998.
But Boeing expects improvements to continue as the design of the aircraft is refined.
SilkAir’s aircraft are fitted with 12 business class and 144 economy seats and feature Boeing’s Sky Interior.
The new aircraft received water cannon salutes in both airports and SilkAir plans to use the new aircraft — it currently has three — to ultimately operate all five weekly services to Cairns.
Refinements in its refreshed cabins include an increased seat pitch in business class (from 39 inches to 49 inches) with additional recline as well as convenient personal storage options and in-seat power.
New economy seats have a sleeker and more ergonomic design with seat-back tablet and phone holders as well as in-seat USB charging ports.
The planes also feature SilkAir’s wireless entertainment system with more than 100 movies and 40 TV shows
“We are thrilled to be welcoming the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 to the SilkAir family,’’ SilkAIr chief executive Foo Chai Woo said in a statement. “The new MAX 8 enables us to offer customers access to new and exciting destinations and paves the way for a new phase of growth.
“With the aircraft entering into service, we look forward to inviting customers on-board to enjoy the quality experience that the MAX 8 offers.”
SilkAir operates about 400 weekly flights from its home base of Singapore to 53 destinations, including Darwin and Cairns.
Recent additions to its network include Colombo and Hiroshima.