SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines (SIA) said on Tuesday (Feb 9) that it would defer more than S$4 billion of spending on Airbus and Boeing planes after reaching agreements with the aircraft manufacturers to delay deliveries.
It will convert 14 of its Boeing 787-10 orders to 11 additional 777-9s to meet its fleet needs beyond the financial year ending in March 2026, the airline said in a statement.
"The agreements with Airbus and Boeing are a key plank of our strategy to navigate the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said.
"They allow us to defer capital expenditure and recalibrate the rate at which we add capacity, aligning both with the projected recovery trajectory for international air travel," he said.
As a result of these agreements, some aircraft ordered by the SIA Group will be delivered over a longer period than initially contracted, the group said, with the delivery stream spread out beyond the immediate five years.
The airline will cut capital spending plans by S$2.2 billion in the 2020-21 financial year ending Mar 31, S$1.7 billion in 2021-22, and by a more limited amount in the following two years.
International travel is expected to take until 2024 to rebound to 2019 levels, according to industry estimates.
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Singapore Airlines last week posted a S$142 million net loss in the third quarter as passenger numbers plunged by 97.6 per cent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though its cargo business held up better given a tight freight market.
The decision to switch some of its Boeing orders to 777-9s is a boost for the planemaker's poor-selling 777X programme, but adds pressure on the smaller 787, already hit by production problems.
Boeing last week said that 118 orders for its 777X wide-body plane under development are no longer seen as firm under accounting rules that require it to regularly assess their viability, leaving it with 191 solid orders for the model.
As of Tuesday, the revised SIA Group aircraft order book consists of 35 planes in the Airbus A320 family, 15 Airbus A350-900s, 31 Boeing 737-8s, 20 planes in the Boeing 787 family and 31 Boeing 777-9s.