Goodbye to an old Singapore Girl

At the Singapore air show this weekend the country’s flag carrier is giving one of aviation’s iconic airliners a worthy send-off.

For SIA will retire the Boeing 747 from its passenger fleet on 6 April after almost four decades of faithful service. Although the Jumbo will continue to haul freight for SIA’s cargo arm for some time to come, it is game over for the “Mega Top” at the passenger division.

SIA Boeing 747-400 1To celebrate, SIA has brought the last 747-412 it received, back in 2001, to the static park at the Singapore air show this weekend (after a 7min positioning flight from nearby Changi Int’l) to celebrate its massive contribution to the airline’s development since it arrived in September 1973.

“The 747 has been the flagship for so many years in the SIA fleet. We’re sad that we’re having to say goodbye to it, SIA’s VP public affairs (and former Flightglobal hack) Nick Ionides told Interactive Flight Daily News.

“The 747 enabled us to pioneer non-stop flying across the Pacific and from Singapore to London. It’s only fitting that we involve the public, so we’ve brought the last 747 passenger aircraft we received to the show and opened it up to visitors.”

SIA Boeing 747-400 2When the big jet arrived in Singapore 39 years ago it immediately transformed the airline, which until then had been relying largely on the 747′s little sister, the 707. Indeed there were many who wondered what the tiny island state was doing ordering such a huge aeroplane in large numbers (sound familiar?).

The jumbo quickly went on to help SIA establish itself as the world’s leading international network carrier with a reputation for fine service delivered by troupes of attentive (and attractive!) “Singapore Girls”.

b747-ticket.jpgThe airline’s original 747-200Bs were joined by the stretched upper deck 747-300 “Big Tops” from 1983 and the -400 “Mega Tops” in 1989.

But the airline has called time as it transitions to the 777-300ER and A380 for its long-haul network. The Jumbo’s last scheduled service will be on 25 March from Melbourne and the type will retire after a SIN-HKG-SIN commemorative flight on 6 April.

SIA Boeing 747-400 cabinThe Jumbo is open to tours at the show and has been decked out with an exhibition displaying the history of the airline’s 747 operations over the four decades of service. The piece de resistance is the display in the forward cabin which features the original 1993 waxwork (above) from Madame Tussaud’s of real Singapore Girl Lim Suet Kwee, who looks as beautiful as ever. Kwee, who has been with SIA since 1986, only stopped flying last year and now a cabin crew executive.

Farewell Singapore Jumbo…

Watch the feature about SIA’s 747 farewell at the Singapore air show here

And here’s a link to the story from Flight International in August 1972, when newly created SIA placed orders for two 747s and took options on two more. It said at the time it may have a requirement for up to 12 Jumbos over the next 10 years.

SIA has also set up a dedicated website to mark the 747 retirement, with history and info about the type’s service with the airline.

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