SilkAir (SLK, Singapore Changi) will retain some of its B737-800s and retrofit them with new cabins due to the uncertainty related to the return of the B737-8s, Singapore Airlines Group Chief Executive Goh Choon Phong said during the quarterly investor briefing.

"I think regarding the exact number of the retrofitted B737-800NG we're talking about we will inform the market as it becomes clearer," Goh said. The retrofits should begin in the first half of 2020, although no specific timeline was announced.

According to the original plan, SilkAir planned to phase-out all seventeen B737-800s as the deliveries of B737 MAX 8s would progress with fourteen units due to be transferred to sister low-cost carrier Scoot (TR, Singapore Changi) and three retired by the group. However, after the latter type was grounded in March 2019, the full-service regional carrier suspended the plans and decided to continue operating the -800s for the time being.

"Plans to transfer Boeing 737-800s to Scoot were cancelled to ensure sufficient capacity for the full-service narrow body network," the airline said in a presentation.

SilkAir currently has six B737 MAX 8s stored in Alice Springs and a further thirty-one units on firm order from Boeing.

SilkAir is due to be merged into Singapore Airlines (SQ, Singapore Changi) in the 2020s as part of the group's realignment strategy which would see its portfolio simplified to just two brands: full-service Singapore Airlines and low-cost Scoot. By that time, the group aims to have new business class cabins installed on all SilkAir's narrowbody jets to ensure homogeneity of service.

During the briefing, Goh also admitted that Singapore Airlines was still expecting its first B777-9s to deliver in 2022, despite the recent hiccups announced by Boeing and the slip of the type's first flight from 2019 to early 2020, and the first delivery from 2020 to early 2021.

Singapore Airlines has twenty B777-9s on firm order from Boeing, the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows.