5 Things You Should Know About Singapore Airlines

250px-Singapore_Airlines_Logo.svgSingapore Airlines Limited (SGX:C6L) or SIA as it is commonly known, is Singapore’s national air carrier, engaging in passenger and cargo air transportation, pilot training, terminal services and air charters, amongst others. The Company operates in four segments: airline operations, cargo operations, engineering services and others.

It currently flies to 63 destinations in 35 countries, serving Asia, North America, Europe, the Middle East, the South West Pacific and Africa, carrying 18.29m passengers annually.

Singapore Airlines is consistently rated one of the world’s best airlines for its superb service, receiving numerous accolades including Conde Nast Traveller’s Best Foreign Airline award for the last 21 years, and more recently bagging 31st place in Fortune Magazine’s Most Admired Companies.

But did you know…

  1. SIA was the first airline to offer free headsets, a choice of meals and free drinks in Economy Class way back in the 1970’s, and satellite-based inflight telephones in 1991.
  2. In 2004, SIA made aviation history with the introduction of the world’s longest, non-stop, ultra long-haul commercial services between Singapore and New York (Newark).
  3. SIA has one of the youngest fleets of commercial aircraft, with an average age of just over six years.
  4. In 2007, SIA became the first commercial airline to operate the new Airbus A380-800, flying from Singapore to Sydney.
  5. SIA stewardesses must only wear red lipstick and nail varnish. Pink or plum shades are forbidden.

Indeed, with practically all airlines struggling in a difficult market, Singapore Airlines has had cumulative profits of S$6.9bn from 2007-2011, with no losses since 2003.

If you’re wondering how SIA survives while others decline, the answer may lie in the company’s “Yin-Yang thinking” – essentially doing two opposing things at the same time, according to Professor Jochen Wurtz, at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Nine year’s of studying the airline revealed that despite “oozing quality”, SIA is actually “one of the stingiest airlines” around. It is successful because it knows when, and when not so spend.

Singapore Airlines staff are split into two teams: “one goes all out to meet all the whims and needs of the customers”, whilst the other looks to “cut, squeeze and negotiate on every cent of spending”.

So incredibly, despite offering the latest aircraft with designer seats and entertainment systems, they found SIA was up to 40% cheaper to run than budget carriers.

It’s certainly makes for interesting reading.

Although, with Singapore Airline’s more dubious accolade of being one of Singapore’s lowest-yielding blue chips with a dividend yield of just 1.9% (lagging sorely behind the Straits Times Index’s (SGX:STI) yield of 2.4%) it’s unlikely to attract the attention of any income investors for a while yet.

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore contributor Alison Hunt doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.