A bit of history...
Singapore air was not a separate airline previously...it was part of MH (Malaysia Airlines) before the late 70's and was known as Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (which was also a good product at that time according to history). Due to the separation of Malaysia and Singapore, the airlines split as well.
This model was picked up Sheikh Maktoum of Dubai (chairman of Emirates) who set about trying model the new Emirates Air in 1987 using two leased Airbuses from PIA and newly employed pilots from SriLankan (Airlanka) at that time. Dubai is following the same model as Singapore albeit with a larger cash reserve than SQ or singapore city will ever have in their holds. Today Emirates has beaten or reached the same level as Singapore.
A latecomer to the scene is Qatar who wants this success story for themselves as well. Investing heavily in half-filled planes on all kinds of routes they are hoping will give them the same success. The Qatari populace lack the same education as Dubai, Sri Lanka or Singapore. The literacy rates in Sri Lanka and Singapore on average for male and female hover around a whopping 95 %, some of the highest in Asia. The same goes for Dubai. In the next 20 years we may see this happen to Qatar as well, but not in the next 5-10 years. Then again who knows, Arab nations tend to make miracles possible ~ look at Dubai.
An interesting story in this is that Sri Lankan when it began in the late 70's was managed by Singapore because the first minister of Singapore was born in Sri Lanka and also holds SL citizenship (Sr. Minister Lee Kuan Yew). After a few years of good management, political ignorance and interference from Sri Lankan govt authorities whose president appointed his own ignorant son to manage Airlanka (political patronage), Singapore Air quit managing Air Lanka The actual cause was stated (by minister Lee) as being over the disagreement of the purchase of two Boeing 747 aircraft. Singapore wanted UL to purchase two 747's like they did earlier. UL management seeing it as a risk, opted to lease used 707's. UL decided to lease these and later opted for 747's. They also picked up many L1011' s from Air Canada and also many 737's as well. The last UL L1011 was retired after the A330's were activated in 1999. Until then they were flying regularly to Zurich, Male and the Middle East.
Today after a 20 year stint, Air Lanka now SriLankan is managed by Emirates. The circle is completed I guess.
When the terrorist attacks happened in July 2001 in Colombo airport. Immediately Dubai and Singapore became hubs for UL and both SQ and EK acted as their subs.
I would not be surprised if one day both UL and EK follow SQ in joining the star alliance. I can only hope!!! They would both make great additions.
Just as a sidenote if you see throughout the world, most island nations concentrate on using their airline and making it a premium product. Examples include Tahiti, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sri Lankan, Dubai (not an Island but close), Bahrein, Cyprus, UK, Austrailia (not an Island but u get my drift), Japan, etc, etc.
Any comments / corrections and additions are appreciated.
Question for Behramjee and SriLankan340? What are UL's current fleet plans. I heard a rumor that they plan to buy more 340's and 330's. Something a few every two months to eventually open up routes like Sydney, Johannesburg, Stockholm, Toronto, New York, Beirut, etc.
By the way they have full landing rights to all these locations. They are supposed to start Beijing this year.