Singapore Airlines offshoot Silk Air begins flights to Darwin

By David Flynn, March 26 2012
Singapore Airlines offshoot Silk Air begins flights to Darwin

Singapore Airlines' regional offshoot Silk Air begins flights between Darwin and Singapore today.

The Darwin-Singapore service kicks off with four weekly flights by SilkAir, which travellers will be pleased to hear is a full-service premium airline with a true business class cabin and service.

SilkAir's flight MI802 will leave Darwin on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at the rather ungodly hour of 2.30am, arriving into Singapore Changi Airport at an only slightly more sane 5.30am.

(If you're stopping at Singapore rather than connecting to elsewhere, good luck getting an early check-in at your hotel – in fact you'll probably end up booking your room starting the day before).

The return leg, MI801, will depart from Singapore at 7.30pm for wheels-down at Darwin around 1.45am.

Silk Air's schedule "is very much focussed on North Asia, South-East Asia and London/Frankfurt connectivity" says Jim Parashos, Director of Airline & Airport Services for Northern Territory Airports.

"In working with Silk Air to develop the business plan, we undertook customer surveys of the local Darwin market, which highlighted that connectivity over Singapore was the highest priority, as was arriving at your destination between 11am and 4pm" Parashos explains.

"Hence the 5.30am arrival into Singapore allows for connections within 2-4 hours to the top markets from Darwin."

Virgin Australia starts Darwin flights next week...

Virgin Australia's daily Sydney-Darwin service begins next Monday, April 2, but is more about adding the top-end capital to Virgin's network map rather than feeding into the Silk Air flights.

Virgin's direct service will depart Sydney at 9.40am and arrive at Darwin at 1.50pm. The return flight leaves Darwin at 2.40pm for wheels-down into Sydney at 7.25pm. 

The service puts another pin in Virgin's Australian network map, as the top end capital has previously been served only by Qantas and Jetstar for domestic flights. Virgin also plans to open a new lounge at Darwin Airport in 2013.

Merren McArthur, Virgin Australia Group Executive of Alliances, Network & Yield Management, says the airline's new Sydney-Darwin service "will be attractive to business travellers who now have the option of a quality business class service from Sydney to Darwin and on to Singapore and beyond. The alliance with Singapore Airlines enables us to open up important new routes in Australia and Asia."

... but it's not good for Silk Air connections

However, when Virgin says the schedule "will complement the new services between Darwin and Singapore which will be operated by Singapore Airlines’ subsidiary, Silk Air", be warned this is not as much about 'connections' as travellers are used to – there are 12 hour gaps between the Virgin and Silk Air flights.

"The Virgin Australia schedule is very much focussed on domestic traffic, as well as US and NZ connections" explains Parashos.

"Inbound traffic, say from Asia or Europe to Darwin, will now have a partner airline connection to Sydney to facilitate 'open jaw' traffic" Parashos says ('open jaw' means a booking in which the traveller's inbound and outbound flights are from different cities).

Virgin Australia will also open a lounge at Darwin Airport – with lounge access available to all business class travellers and high-status frequent flyers of Virgin's many partner airlines – although Virgin Australia exec Martin Daley told Australian Business Traveller that the Darwin lounge won't be open until 2013.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

It is a good time for many connection options at changi, from Asia, Europe< USA flights.



04 Nov 2010

Total posts 670

Good time for connections but how many people are going to fly from Sydney to Darwin (on Virgin), and then on to Singapore with SilkAir, and then start the last leg to their final destination? Two hops to get to Singpore is more than enough anyway, its not like this is a long flight - not even eight hours.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Frequent Flyer

28 May 2011

Total posts 81

I don't think the intention is to compete against direct flights to changi - it appears more for Darwin travelers, or tourists and business people who want to stop in Darwin for lesiure or business on the way to Sydney.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Feb 2011

Total posts 12

This is great news espically the lounge, there is probably a lot of pent up demand for another lounge in Darwin and a full service to Singpore will be good to.

Darwin has a lot of coporate flyers who will value both


Virgin Blue - Velocity Rewards

12 May 2011

Total posts 31

"The service puts another pin in Virgin's Australian network map, as the top end capital has previously been served only by Qantas and Jetstar for domestic flights" 

Actually Virgin have long serviced Darwin but not DRW-SYD. I think they've had direct flights to at least PER, MEL and BNE from DRW for quite a while now. 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2540

Yeah, was speaking from a Sydney-based route perspective - that'll teach me for not thinking beyond the harbour city!


10 Sep 2011

Total posts 162

Still waiting for Virgin Australia to announce their codeshare on this route.  It appears on the Virgin Australia routemap, but it cannot be booked!


10 Sep 2011

Total posts 162

I found the flight number on Orbitz. VA5710.  At over USD1000 it is at least $200 dearer than Silkair

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