COVID-19: Singapore Airlines April traffic falls off a cliff

COVID-19 border closures see a 99.6 percent drop in RPKs


In addition to posting its first-ever net loss in its 48-year history, Singapore Airlines (SIA) said on Friday (15 May) that its April 2020 traffic recorded a 99.6 percent year-on-year decline measured in revenue passenger kilometres-RPKs) as travel demand was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with border controls and travel restrictions remaining in place around the world.

A screenshot of the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracking site taken on 17 May. To view the live site, click on the image. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

Overall passenger capacity (measured in available seat kilometres-ASKs) was cut by 96.3 percent in response. Passenger load factor (PLF) fell to 9.1 percent. SIA’s capacity was 95.5 percent lower compared to last year’s, with only a skeletal network in operation connecting Singapore to 14 metro cities. Passenger carriage declined 99.5 percent, resulting in a PLF of 9.3 percent.

Singapore Airlines’ low-cost unit Scoot is also suffering from the global shutdown of commercial aviation. (PHOTO: SIA)

The airline’s regional SilkAir unit said its passenger carriage decreased by 99.8 percent against a 99.6 percent cut in capacity. PLF declined to 34.1 percent. During the month, SilkAir ceased operations across the network except for flights to Chongqing. SIA’s low-cost unit Scoot said its passenger carriage declined 99.9 percent against a contraction in capacity of 98 percent, which led to a PLF of 5.9 percent. During the month, Scoot temporarily ceased operations to Southeast Asia, West Asia and Europe, while maintaining flights to Hong Kong and Perth.

Cargo load factor (CLF) was 17.5 percentage points higher as the capacity contraction of 64.7 percent outpaced the 54.1 percent decline in cargo traffic (measured in freight tonne-kilometres). Capacity contraction would have been much greater, save for the deployment of passenger aircraft on cargo-only flights. All regions registered improvements in CLF.

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Asian Aviation
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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