SINGAPORE: The Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group suffered a 98.1 per cent year-on-year decline in passenger carriage in September, even as Singapore opened its borders to more places.
“Demand for air travel continued to remain soft as border controls and strict travel restrictions remained in place in most countries to curb the spread of COVID-19,” the group said as it published its September operating results on Thursday (Oct 15).
Lower overall passenger carriage in September resulted in a group passenger load factor (PLF) of 17.2 per cent, representing an almost 68 point drop from last year. PLF measures the percentage of available seating capacity that is filled with passengers.
SIA Group's passenger capacity was down by 90.8 per cent year-on-year.
Meanwhile for SIA itself, capacity was 88.9 per cent lower compared to last year’s. In September, SIA's network, which was described as "skeletal", connected Singapore to 30 metro cities. This was up from the 28 in August, after adding Surabaya and Taipei.
SIA's passenger carriage also declined 97.7 per cent, resulting in a PLF of 17.4 per cent.
Meanwhile SilkAir's passenger carriage decreased by 99.1 per cent year-on-year against a 98.1 per cent cut in capacity, the group said, adding that the PLF was 37.1 per cent.
“SilkAir continued to operate flights to Cebu, Chongqing, Kuala Lumpur and Medan, and added Phnom Penh to the list of destinations served,” the group noted.
As for budget carrier Scoot, passenger carriage declined 99.4 per cent year-on-year, as capacity shrank 95.7 per cent, which led to a PLF of 12.5 per cent.
The group noted that Scoot had increased in September the number of destinations served to 15, adding Osaka-Kansai (via Kaohsiung), Tokyo-Narita (via Taipei) and Yogyakarta to the network, temporarily suspending Tianjin.
Operations to West Asia and Europe remained suspended.
Cargo load factor was 29.5 percentage points higher year-on-year as the capacity contraction of 59.4 per cent year-on-year outpaced the 39.3 per cent decline in cargo traffic (measured in freight tonne-kilometres), said the group.
It added all route regions recorded year-on-year increases in cargo load factor last month.
Despite the results, SIA Group noted there were “positive developments” for them as the Government gradually reopened its borders to some places.
“In September 2020, the Singapore government announced the addition of Australia (excluding Victoria state) and Vietnam to the list of countries that it has unilaterally opened its borders to,” it explained.
“Singapore also continued to add additional cities from which passengers can transfer, through Singapore, to other destinations.
“These positive developments have helped to bolster the SIA Group of airlines’ ongoing recovery from COVID-19.
“Singapore Airlines and SilkAir continue to rebuild their network, reinstating services to Brunei, Fukuoka, Kathmandu and Male and increasing the frequency of selected flights in their passenger network in October, November and December 2020.”