SIA pax capacity remains at 32% below pre-pandemic levels; VTLs help boost demand

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APAS Aircraft Storage Alice Springs
Airlines like Singapore Airlines are bringing planes out of storage as traffic improves with the removal of some COVID restrictions. (PHOTO: Steve Strike/Outback Photographics)

On 8 September 2021, Singapore launched its first Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) arrangements with Brunei and Germany, allowing eligible travellers quarantine-free travel into the country. This resulted in an uptick in demand, especially to Germany, in September 2021. The Singapore Airlines (SIA) group’s passenger capacity (measured in available seat-kilometres) remained steady month-on-month at around 32 percent of pre-Covid-19 levels in September 2021. Passenger traffic (revenue passenger-kilometres) grew 4.4 percent. 

Group passenger load factor (PLF) for the month increased 1.3 percentage points year-on-year to 18.5 percent, driven by stronger demand to Europe and the Americas. On a month-on-month basis, the PLF improved by 1.0 percentage points, led by Europe which saw positive pick up on Frankfurt and Munich VTL services. 

Cargo operations registered a monthly cargo load factor (CLF) of 87.4 percent, down 1.6 percentage points year-on-year as loads (freight tonne-kilometres) rose by 54.1 percent on the back of a 56.9 percent capacity (capacity tonne-kilometres) expansion. The East Asia, Americas, and West Asia and Africa route regions recorded year-on-year increases in CLF during the month.

Singapore Airlines hopes the government’s new Vaccinated Travel Lanes will bring people back to flying. A lone student waits to say goodbye to a friend in a nearly deserted departure hall. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

At the end of September 2021, the SIA group’s passenger network covered 65 destinations including Singapore. The Singapore Airlines full-service network served 521 destinations, after taking into account of the temporary suspension of Medan due to airport closure. Scoot, SIA’s low-cost carrier subsidiary, served 241 destinations as at end of September. Surabaya was temporarily suspended due to airport closure, and operations to Nanjing and West Asia remain suspended until further notice.

In October 2021, Singapore announced that its VTL arrangements would be expanded to include nine more countries (Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States of America). This further supports the safe and gradual recovery in international air travel to and through Singapore. 

COVID-19 vaccines arrive at Singapore’s Changi Airport on 21 December. (PHOTO: Ministry of Communications and Information)

With the commencement of the seasonal services to Vancouver and Seattle (from 2 December 2021 to 15 February 2022, pending regulatory approval), and Scoot’s direct VTL services to Berlin (from 19 October 2021, pending regulatory approval), the SIA Group’s VTL network will serve 17 cities. 

In addition, SIA will add trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic services with the resumption of Frankfurt-New York and Hong-Kong-San Francisco flights from early November 2021. SIA will also resume A380 operations to London from 18 November 2021. Scoot will resume services to Phuket (8 October 2021) and Jeddah (21 October 2021). 

Based on the airline’s current published schedule, the group expects passenger capacity to reach around 37 percent of pre-Covid levels by the third quarter of FY2021/22.

SIA adds wellness options to long-haul flights
Singapore Airlines announced a partnership with health and wellness retreat Golden Door, which is based in California. The partnership will bring a new roster of health-focused meals, exercise, and well-being options to SIA customers on board its flights between Singapore and the USA. Golden Door experts including top chefs, nutritionists, and personal trainers have developed a broad range of menus, exercise and stretching programmes, as well as other content designed specifically for SIA customers. This will help travellers enjoy improved nutrition, sleep, relaxation, and energy levels on board the world’s longest non-stop flights that can extend to nearly 19 hours.

The first menus and wellness content from the partnership will first be available on flight SQ37, the direct service from Los Angeles to Singapore, in January 2022. The programme will be progressively extended to SIA’s non-stop services from San Francisco, New York, and Seattle1 to Singapore. Please refer to Annexe A for the flight schedules of SIA’s non-stop services between Singapore and the USA. SIA’s non-stop services from Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco have also been designated as Vaccinated Travel Lane flights, allowing eligible customers to enjoy quarantine-free entry into Singapore.

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