COVID-19: Singapore Airlines posts first loss ever

City-state flag carrier, like other airlines, brought low by global pandemic; Pax capacity cut 96%, losses incurred in fuel hedging

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Singapore Airlines A350
(PHOTO: Shutterstock)

For the first time in its 48-year history, Singapore Airlines (SIA) has reported a full-year net loss as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate the commercial aviation industry worldwide. The airline reported in a filing to the Singapore Exchange (SGX) a net loss of S$212 million (US$148.96 million) for the 12 months ending 31 March compared to a net profit of S$683 million profit for the previous year. The airline’s net loss for the period from January to March was S$732 million compared with the S$203 million net profit in the same period a year ago. The airline had warned it faced a net loss in a filing to the SGX on 8 May.

A screenshot of the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracking site taken on 14 May. To access the live site click on the image. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

The company said it was continuing to conserve cash as much as possible and cut costs by using management pay cuts, voluntary and compulsory no-pay leave schemes, and a shorter work month for all ground staff. “We have worked with suppliers and partners to reduce cost and reschedule payments and have deferred non-essential projects and imposed tight controls on discretionary spending,” the airline said in its SGX filing.


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The company also said the “drastic cuts” in passenger flight operations have significantly reduced overall cargo capacity, but there still remains “strong demand from global supply chains for air freight, especially for the movement of critical medical supplies and essential goods. Beyond maximising freighter utilisation during this time, we have also deployed passenger aircraft on cargo-only missions and secured regulatory approval to transport freight in passenger seats and overhead bins”, the airline said.

SIA is also in discussions with OEMs like Boeing and Airbus to defer aircraft deliveries and payments to “reduce near term cash outflows”.

“We do not take the support and understanding of our customers for granted, and have taken steps to keep in touch and communicate with them regularly. We have also revised our global waiver policy to offer bonus flight credits or provide refunds to those who prefer that option and extended the validity of our KrisFlyer and PPS statuses,” SIA said.

The Singapore government has said it will take any measures it needs to take to ensure the survival of the airline and has set aside S$750 million of support for the aviation sector. SIA in March said it had secured up to S$19 billion of funding to help see it through the COVID-19 pandemic and to expand afterward. It is tapping existing investors for up to S$15 billion through the sale of shares and convertible bonds to offset the shock to its business. The fundraising is being underwritten by the airline’s biggest investor, Temasek Holdings, which owns about 55 percent of the group. In addition, it has arranged a S$4 billion bridge loan facility with DBS Bank to support the company’s near-term liquidity requirements.

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Matthew Driskill is the Editor of Asian Aviation and is based in Cambodia. He has been an Asia-based journalist and content producer since 1990 for outlets including Reuters and the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and is a former president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong. He frequently appears on international broadcast outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC and has taught journalism at Hong Kong University and the American University of Paris. Driskill has received awards from the Associated Press for Investigative Reporting and Business Writing and in 1989 was named the John J. McCloy Fellow by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York where he earned his Master's Degree.

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