SilkAir brings Boeing 737 MAX 8 flights to Cairns, Darwin

By Chris C., December 8 2017
SilkAir brings Boeing 737 MAX 8 flights to Cairns, Darwin

UPDATE | SilkAir will swap its regular Boeing 737-800 jets for its new Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes on flights from Singapore to Cairns and Darwin from early 2018, the airline has confirmed.

For business class flyers, there's 10 extra inches of seat pitch compared to the outgoing aircraft, increasing from 39 to 49 inches, along with a steeper recline of 12 inches, boosted from 8 inches.

Flight MI801 to Darwin on January 7 2018 will be the first regularly scheduled Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight to Australia, leaving The Lion City at 8:30am for a 2:50pm arrival into Darwin.

The same plane jets back to Singapore as flight MI802 later the same afternoon, pushing back at 3:45pm to reach Singapore at 7:30pm.

Cairns gets its first MAX 8 flight one day later, with SilkAIr flight MI811 departing Singapore at 1:10am to arrive in Cairns at 10am on the same calendar day, turning around as flight MI812 at 11:20am, for a 4:45pm arrival into Singapore.

Darwin's MI803/MI804 flight also swaps to the MAX 8 jet on flights from January 8 out of Singapore and January 9 from the NT capital.

These flights are now open for booking via the SilkAir website, with Virgin Australia Velocity members able to earn and redeem points on SilkAir flights, and accrue status credits on eligible paid fares.

Also read: SilkAir Boeing 737 MAX 8 business class review

PREVIOUS, November 24 2018, by David Flynn | Singapore Airlines' regional arm SilkAir has tentatively rostered its new Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets onto Cairns and Darwin flights for late 2018, although the airline isn't ready to officially announce the upgrade or circle any date in its calendar.

According to the timetable-watching website RoutesOnline, a "preliminary schedule" shows the factory-fresh Boeing 737 MAX 8s on Singapore–Cairns flights (MI811/MI812 and MI813/MI814) and Singapore–Darwin flights (MI801/MI802 and MI803/804) as of October 28, 2018.

Those jets feature twelve of SilkAir's comfortable new business class seats at the pointy end of the plane, with wireless inflight entertainment – but alas, no Internet – from tip to tail.

However, approached by Australian Business Traveller, a SilkAir spokesperson declined to comment directly on the listing, saying "We constantly review our aircraft deployment plan, and will announce any confirmed plans at the appropriate time." 

SilkAir has signed up for 37 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets – the same jet which Virgin Australia expects to begin flying from 2019, and which Qantas is also eying for its domestic fleet – and will have close 2017 with three in its fleet and 34 due through to 2021.

Chris C.

A Brisbane-based contributor to Executive Traveller, Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 4

Great to hear as I am flying to Singapore from Darwin on the 4th May and returning on the 1st July. The previous information I got from Silk Air a few weeks ago was the same vague answer ABT got.

04 Nov 2012

Total posts 220

The problem is in Cairns we get whacked big time on fares to Asia and short flight times, Qantas should return CNS to HKG as CX flights are always full. These new aircraft have PE seats don't call them J as they're not.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 319

At least you get flights out of Cairns gumshoe, although as you point out they are a little on the expensive side, spare a thought for those of us down the road in Townsville, we couldn’t even get Bali flights to last, the long trips via Brisbane will continue for us.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644


"Qantas should return CNS to HKG as CX flights are always full."
If U understand half(or even more than half) of the pax load on a full CX flight for CNS-HKG has nothing to do with starting or ending a journey in HKG, U would know why QF would not return to CNS-HKG as starting or ending a journey in HKG would be all QF could offer fm CNS....even the ultra-low frequency HX on CNS-HKG route can offer more than QF in regards to connectivity @ HKG.

I flew HKG-CNS 20yrs ago with QF on a 763ER. Today, the best and only chance QF Group will return to that route would be JQ.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jul 2013

Total posts 20

Recliner for 4.5hrs on a red-eye 230am departure. Not keen. Wish they put in Lay-flat or even Angle Flat seats in J.

Pity MH does not fly to darwin anyone. I miss my OW Status options when traveling oversea. I heard there 737-Max10 they order maybe be reconfig to have lay-flat seats.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Nov 2015

Total posts 42

Hang on just a mo, Why cant Silk Air use DRW as a stop-over on the way to SYD/MEL/ADL... ??

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jul 2013

Total posts 20

Uhm, Silk Air Sister airline already fly to SYD/MEL/ADL/BNE/PER. That is Singapore Airline. Can SIA Has a far superior products then Silk in J and Y. As SIA is Long Haul airline.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644


"Why cant Silk Air use DRW as a stop-over on the way to SYD/MEL/ADL... ??
Hang on just a mo, why can't QF or VA also use ADL as a stop-over on the way to BNE/SYD/MEL for all flights from PER...?


16 Nov 2011

Total posts 620

Many reasons. For one the flights to Darwin, everytime I've flown the route (about 6 times in past 2 years) have always been near on full (except J where twice I was only pax and other times only 2 or 3 of us).

This is also backed up by the fact the flights used to go SIN-DRW-CNS-SIN and SIN-CNS-DRW-SIN and about 12-18 months ago they separated them into direct flights.

Secondly MI is SQ's regional arm, there is nothing to be gained from going further on, even if there was capacity and demand. That's where SQ would come into the picture.

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