Singapore Airlines says traffic improving

Based on current published schedules, SIA expects passenger capacity for December 2021 to reach around 45 percent of pre-COVID levels

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Airlines like Singapore Airlines have had to ground thousands of planes due to the COVID-19 pandemic and near shutdown of international aviation. (PHOTO: Steve Strike/Outback Photographics)

The Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group said Wednesday (15 December) that it carried more than 300,000 passengers in November 2021, a growth of 59.4 percent compared to the previous month. This came amid the expansion of its Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) network to nine more cities (Chennai, Delhi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, Mumbai, Seoul, Sydney and Zurich).

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)

Group passenger capacity (measured in available seat-kilometres) grew 10.6 percent month-on-month, reaching 37 percent of pre-Covid-19 levels. Group passenger load factor (PLF) for November 2021 increased 9.2 percentage points month-on-month to 29.1 percent (+14.9 percentage points year-on-year), largely due to stronger demand on the VTL network. Cargo operations registered a monthly cargo load factor (CLF) of 83.9 percent, or 1.6 percentage points lower year-on-year. The 38.1 percent growth in loads (freight tonne-kilometres) trailed behind the capacity (capacity tonne-kilometre) expansion of 40.8 percent, arising from the injection of bellyhold capacity. All route regions recorded lower CLF during the month, except for East Asia.

SIA, like other carriers, has seen its cargo business grow, but bellyhold cargo is troubled because of the cut in passenger flights. (PHOTO: Singapore Airlines Cargo)

At the end of November 2021, the group’s passenger network covered 72 destinations including Singapore, up by six compared to the end of last month as services to India were restored. The Singapore Airlines full-service network served 591 destinations while Scoot, SIA’s low-cost carrier subsidiary, served 25 destinations as at end of November.

The group continues to take calibrated steps to open up VTL services across its network. In the first half of December 2021, the Group launched VTL flights from Thailand (Bangkok), as well as Seattle in the United States and Vancouver, Canada, with the commencement of a Singapore-Seattle-Vancouver service. In the second half of December 2021, the Group will progressively launch VTL flights from Cambodia (Phnom Penh and Siem Reap), the Maldives (Male), Sri Lanka (Colombo), and Turkey (Istanbul).

In January 2022, Houston will join the VTL network through an existing service that connects to Singapore via Manchester. The airline also plans to add new VTL services from Australia (Adelaide and Brisbane in January 2022 and Perth on 1 March 2022). In early December 2021, Scoot resumed services to Chiang Mai, Davao, Langkawi, Vientiane, and Tiruchirappalli, and it will re-introduce flights to Krabi from 21 December 2021. The carrier will mark a new milestone when it operates to London’s Gatwick Airport via Bangkok from 16 December 2021. From 31 January 2022, Scoot will resume services to Amritsar.

Based on the current published schedules, the group expects the passenger capacity for December 2021 to reach around 45 percent of pre-COVID levels, higher than earlier expectation of 43 percent. The group’s passenger capacity for January 2022 is expected to be around 47 percent of pre-COVID levels, based on a calibrated growth of the passenger network, supported by demand on VTL services.

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