Thai Airways International’s announcement it would be signing for 45 Boeing aircraft – believed to be Boeing 787-9s – at this year’s Singapore Airshow could mark the restart of significant order activity at the show after almost four years of pandemic impact. 

Thai on 14 February said it entered into an agreement with Boeing and engine manufacturer GE Aerospace over the purchase of the 45 aircraft for fleet renewal purposes, adding that it would firm up orders at the show. 

Singapore airshow 2018 static

Source: X/Singapore Airshow

The static display of the Singapore Airshow in 2018.

After strong order activity at the Paris and Dubai air shows over the past year, a bullish Asia-Pacific airline sector in the thick of recovery, coupled with ongoing fleet renewal campaigns, could yield some significant announcements at the week-long show. 

Indeed, the show’s past editions have seen several high-profile commitments, especially from Southeast Asian carriers. 


At the Singapore Airshow in 2008, Indonesian carriers dominated the order books, with Garuda Indonesia and low-cost operator Lion Air each locking in commitments for Boeing aircraft. Garuda ordered 10 777-300ERs and boosted its 737-800 orders, while Lion signed for 56 more 737-900ERs. 

Lion would again make headlines four years later, when it became the launch customer for the 737 Max 9, as it firmed up orders for 201 of the re-engined twinjets. At the same show in 2012, Lion also ordered 27 ATR 72-600s. 

In 2014, lessor Amedeo firmed up commitments for A380s, while Thai low-cost operator Nok Air committed to order 15 737s. 

Two years later Philippine Airlines announced commitments for up to 12 A350-900s, while Boeing notched commitments from Chinese operator Okay Airways for 737s. 

In recent years, however, order announcements at the show have been fewer. The 2020 show was impacted by uncertainty surrounding the newly-discovered coronavirus – then known as the Wuhan virus – while the two years later the show took place against a backdrop of continuing pandemic restrictions. 

Cargo – a lifeline for most Asian carriers amid the pandemic – was to be a key focus in that 2022 show. Singapore Airlines confirmed its order for seven Airbus A350 freighters, while conversion specialist EFW secured an order for six A321 passenger-to-freighter conversions from Latvian operator SmartLynx Airlines. 

Singapore Airlines A350F

Source: Airbus

Singapore Airlines finalised its December 2021 commitment to take seven A350Fs

This year marks the first full-scale show in post-pandemic times, and comes as airlines in the region inch towards full traffic recovery. There are several live fleet renewal campaigns – like that of Thai Airways – among Asia-Pacific carriers, and some of these could yield an aircraft order at the Singapore show. 

Philippines low-cost operator Cebu Pacific, for instance, confirmed in October it was looking at placing a record order for between 100 and 150 narrowbody aircraft. The carrier’s request for proposals – issued both to Boeing and Airbus – had wrapped by the end of 2023. 

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific, meanwhile, kicked off a fleet replacement campaign in late-2023 for its medium-haul fleet, currently anchored by Airbus A330s. The Oneworld carrier already placed orders for A350 freighters in December, becoming the second Asian customer for the type.