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Singapore Airlines chairman Michael Fam
"This is a tragic day for all of us"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 15:37 GMT
Crash tarnishes clean record
Singapore Airlines 747-400
A Singapore Airlines 747-400 in flight
Singapore Airlines has always enjoyed an enviable reputation for safety - until the Taipei disaster, none of its long-haul flights had ever suffered a fatal crash.

In a statement, the airline said the ill-fated 747-400, bought new in 1997, underwent its last maintenance check in September, and that no defects were found.

The company claims to have the most modern fleet in the air - with the average age of its aircraft less than six-years-old.

By contrast, Chiang Kai-shek International Airport has been the scene of two crashes in just over two years.

Pioneering record

Said to be one of the world's most profitable airlines, Singapore Airlines is known for the quality of its in-flight service, which has won it repeated awards.

In September, it placed the biggest order yet for Airbus's advanced 'super-jumbo', the A3XX - and pledged to be the first operator to put the plane into service.

The airline traces its origins back to the foundation of Malayan Airlines in 1947, when Singapore was part of Malaya.

But Singapore Airlines, in its current guise, was established in October 1972 with a fleet of 10 aircraft and a staff of 6,000.

Singapore Airlines
Fleet of 93 aircraft
Average age of fleet: 5 years 8 months
Claims to have world's most modern fleet
Flies to 90 cities in 40 countries
Excellent safety record - no long-haul flights have crashed before
Since then, it has grown into a major international airline, with a fleet of 93 aircraft flying to more than 90 cities in more than 40 countries.

Virgin Alliance

Last year, Singapore Airlines bought a 49% stake in Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic, in a deal worth 600m.

The two companies have retained separate identities, but share ticket operations on some routes and combined frequent flyer programmes and airport lounge facilities.

Singapore Airlines claims to have pioneered services such as free drinks on international flights and personal in-flight entertainment with complimentary headphones.

Its advertisements depicted its pretty young stewardesses, known as Singapore Girls, who wore traditional long tight-fitting outfits.

Profitable

Reports say that the airline has been profitable throughout its history, even during the 1997 Asian economic crisis, which hit most Asian airlines badly.

Until the Taipei disaster, the airline's worst memory was the crash suffered by a plane belonging to its short-haul subsidiary, SilkAir, in December 1997.

The aircraft, a Boeing-737, nose-dived over Indonesia, killing all 104 people on board.

Singapore Airlines chairman, Michael Fam, said on Wednesday that the entire company was shocked and saddened by the tragic accident.

"It is the first involving fatalities in SIA's history," he said.

"We wish to express our sincere regrets to all concerned for this horrifying accident."

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See also:

29 Sep 00 | Business
Airbus beats Boeing to jumbo deal
16 May 00 | Business
SuperJumbo interest from Singapore
20 Dec 99 | Business
Branson sells 49% of Virgin Atlantic
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