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Singapore Airlines narrows annual loss amid returning demand for air travel

Singapore Airlines narrows annual loss amid returning demand for air travel

File photo of a Singapore Airlines (SIA) plane taken on Oct 9, 2021, as it prepares for landing at Changi Airport in Singapore. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines (SIA) on Wednesday (May 18) posted a narrower annual loss of S$962 million, saying it was ready to ramp up operations further amid returning demand for international air travel as borders reopen in almost all key markets.

SIA's third consecutive net loss in the 12 months ending on Mar 31 was an improvement from the S$4.3 billion loss a year earlier that included impairment charges on 45 older aircraft.

The latest figure was in line with the average forecast of a S$968.5 million net loss from 11 analysts polled by Refinitiv.

Annual revenue doubled to S$7.6 billion.

"Singapore's launch and subsequent expansion of the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) scheme was the game changer for the group," said SIA in a statement on Wednesday.

"It facilitated quarantine-free mass travel for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and significantly boosted the demand for flights to and through Singapore," the group added.

The group, including Singapore Airlines and Scoot, carried a total of 3.9 million passengers during the financial year, up six-fold from a year before, with international air travel recovering in the last six months as global border restrictions eased.

Group net loss was S$125 million for the second half, an improvement of S$712 million (+85.1 per cent) from the first half.

"Key markets around the world have further eased travel restrictions, supporting a strong recovery in demand in air travel across all cabin classes," said SIA.

"The group will closely monitor demand, remain nimble and alert to all opportunities that may arise, and adjust its capacity and services accordingly."

Passenger capacity is expected to reach 61 per cent of pre-pandemic levels for the first quarter, before improving to 67 per cent in the second quarter.

As travel restrictions eased during the year, the group progressively reinstated services to several destinations, and stepped-up frequencies on existing routes.

At the end of the financial year, the group’s passenger network covered a total of 93 destinations in 36 countries and territories, up from 85 at the end of the third quarter.

This compares with a pre-pandemic network of 137 destinations in 37 countries and territories.

"The SIA Group is ready to ramp up operations and capture the returning demand for international air travel," it said, adding that it has resumed cabin crew recruitment after a two-year hiatus.

"The group will continue to make the necessary investment in our people to meet our growth plans. Aircraft utilisation can also be increased quickly to support network expansion."

Source: Agencies/CNA/aj

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