SIA Group change

SIA Group is to merge SilkAir into Singapore Airlines after a “suffcient number” of SilkAir 737s and 737 MAX 8s have been upgraded with new business class lie-flat seats and inflight entertainment systems to “ensure closer product and service consistency across the SIA Group’s full-service network”. This work is due to begin in 2020. The merger will also mean transfers of routes and aircraft within the SIA Group. SilkAir, launched in 1989 as Tradewinds, focused on holiday destinations in Southeast Asia, until renamed in 1992 and its evolution to a full-service regional carrier. Mark Broadbent

Boeing and Safran joint venture

Boeing and Safran have agreed a new joint venture to design, build and service auxiliary power units. Both companies will have a 50% stake in the partnership, which will be based in the United States. The deal is subject to regulatory and anti-trust clearance, but is expected to close in the second half of 2018. Safran supplies a range of components to-Boeing-programmes, including CFM LEAP-1B engines for the 737 MAX through CFM International, and Boeing and Safran also are partners in MATIS, a joint venture in Morocco producing wiring products. Mark Broadbent

Merger plan

South Africa’s Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has announced a plan to merge South African Airways (SAA), SA Airlink and Mango to create savings. The merger could take a while, as the Department of Public Enterprises is still examining legislation, business models, viability, operations and funding options. Maintenance departments also need to be consolidated and employment contracts renegotiated. Loss-making SAA and grounded SA Express will have to be stabilised before consolidation. SAA made a ZAR 5.7 billion loss for the year ending March, double that expected, and says it needs ZAR 12.5 billion over the next three years if it is to continue operating. It hopes to break even in 2021. Guy Martin

South African cuts

In news related to the story above, embattled state-owned airline SA Express has been grounded by the South African Civil Aviation Authority, with the airline’s operator’s certificate, its maintenance organisation approvals and the certificates of airworthiness for nine of its 21 aircraft suspended after an audit found non-compliance with regulations. The airline had two in-flight technical problems in May. South Africa’s Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan announced a new board to stabilise the carrier, which last year could not convince the Auditor General it was a going concern. After the grounding, SA Express initiated a 30-day programme to try and get back into the air. Guy Martin

Bamboo shoots for growth

Vietnamese start-up Bamboo Airways is planning ambitious growth. The airline, set up by conglomerate FLC Group, will lease around 20 single-aisle aircraft and start operations in 2019. It has also ordered A321neos, 737 MAX 9s and 777Xs. Mark Broadbent