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A Singapore Airlines A350 performing the inaugural flight from Seattle. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Singapore Airlines Passenger Capacity Down – Sees Hope For Measured Recovery

Singapore Airlines (SIA) reported a decline in overall passenger capacity by 90.2 percent year on year, while passenger capacity was lowered by 56 percent in March 2021 as compared to the same month last year.

Compared to February 2021 however, the airline had expanded its network from forty-one to forty-seven destinations, mainly due to the transfer of narrow-body regional destinations – such as Chongqing, Male, and Phuket –  from subsidiary SilkAir to the flagship airline, Singapore Airlines, as part of the group’s merger, as well as the reintroduction of flights to Haneda Airport in Tokyo and new routes to Yangon.

SilkAir passenger capacity decreased by 92.9 percent year on– year, and following the progressive transfer of destinations to Singapore Airlines, SilkAir only flew to five destinations – such as Cebu, Kathmandu, Kuala Lumpur, Medan and Singapore – as of the end of March 2021.

As for the group’s low-cost carrier Scoot, the airline’s passenger capacity contracted by 95.9 percent year-on-year, having on flew to eighteen destinations, an increase from the previous number of seventeen destinations.

Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, however, international air travel remains on the low and flights to South Asia and Europe still remain suspended.

While many more key markets have begun the mass vaccination programs, recovery in international air travel demand still continued to remain low in March.

Better Numbers for Cargo

The upside of falling passenger traffic was the increase in numbers for the group’s cargo subsidiary. All route regions served by the SIA Group continued to consistently record year-on-year increases in cargo load factors, as a result of the continuous increase in cargo traffic amidst the pandemic.

SIA Cargo recorded a monthly cargo load factor of 92.3 percent, which was 24.1 percentage points higher year-on-year. Cargo traffic increased by 0.8 percent on the back of a capacity contraction of 25.5 percent.

Hopeful for Measured Recovery

Overall, the group’s capacity reached 23 percent of pre-Covid levels, 2 percent lower than the initial expectations of 25 percent. Passenger capacity is expected to be around 27 percent of pre-Covid levels by June 2021, based on the modest growth of the passenger network in the coming months.

The SIA Group said it remains hopeful for a “measured recovery” in international air travel demand, especially as Singapore continues to slowly open up its borders with special Reciprocal Green Lane and Air Travel Pass arrangements.

Currently, Singapore has opened travel lanes with five countries – Australia, Brunei, mainland China, New Zealand and Taiwan – whereby travelers are allowed to enter without quarantine but are still required to take a Covid-19 test upon arrival and other safety measures.

Travel lanes with other countries, such as Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Vietnam, are still in active discussions whereby the possibility of only residents who have completed the vaccination program may be allowed to travel.

Charlotte Seet
Charlotte Seet
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