Throughout the span of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, the airline industry continues to experience the ebb and flow of passenger…
Singapore Airlines Records Toughest Year in Company History
Singapore flag carrier Singapore Airlines reported on Wednesday that it had suffered a net loss of 4.3 billion Singapore dollars ($3.23 billion) for the financial year ending in March 2021 as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreck international aviation, which the airline relies on given Singapore’s lack of a domestic aviation market.
The massive loss was far bigger than the 212 million Singapore dollar loss recorded in the prior financial year, its first-ever dip into the red, when only one quarter had been affected by the pandemic.
The airline said group passenger traffic shrank 97.9% in the financial year ended March 31 from a year before and that group revenue fell by 12 billion Singapore dollars to 3.816 billion Singapore dollars due to the decline in passenger flown revenue across Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Scoot, the three passenger airlines within the group.
This was partially offset by an increase in cargo flown revenue, which rose by 39% year-over-year to 2.71 billion Singapore dollars — which was the result of advancements in freighter utilization — such as operating passenger aircraft for cargo-only flights and removing seats from passenger cabins to create additional cargo volume.
Strong air cargo demand, especially in key segments such as e-commerce, pharmaceuticals and electronics, provided strong support for both cargo load factors and yields amid tight industry cargo capacity.
The group’s cargo network comprised 72 destinations including Singapore, up from a previous 66 as of December 31, 2020.
Singapore Airlines Group said that it expects passenger capacity to be around 28% of pre-Covid-19 levels by June 2021. By July 2021, group capacity is expected to reach around 32$ of pre-Covid-19 levels, and it expects to serve around 49% of the destinations that were flown before the crisis.
The estimated numbers have been reduced as the much-anticipated Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble that was due to launch on May 26 has once again been delayed amid a spike in recent Covid-19 infections in Singapore.
“Singapore Airlines strongly supports all efforts to further open borders in a safe and calibrated manner,” the airline said in a statement, further adding that, “the group expects to continue with a measured expansion of the passenger network and will remain nimble and flexible in adjusting capacity to meet the demand for air travel.”
Fleet Growth Despite Weak Demand
Currently, the group fleet consists of 162 passenger aircraft and seven freighters. This excludes the 414 aircraft which are deemed surplus to the group’s requirements, six Boeing 737 MAX 8s that have been temporarily withdrawn from service and two aircraft — one Airbus A330 and one Airbus A320 — that have left the operating fleet in preparation for lease returns.
Yet despite the weak passenger demand, the Singapore Airlines Group is expecting to take delivery of 32 aircraft in the coming twelve months, which includes eight Boeing 737 MAX 8s, although it is uncertain when the aircraft type will return to service within the region.
“What happens moving forward is really fluid, because it depends on the authorities ungrounding the 737 Max, including Singapore [and] other jurisdictions that the MAX will fly to,” said Executive Vice President for Finance and Strategy Tan Kai Ping.
Taken together with five aircraft that will exit the group fleet, this delivery will record a net increase of 27 aircraft in the year to March 31 2022.
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