SINGAPORE: Scoot will “temporarily suspend” flights to 49 destinations as countries tighten border restrictions amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
In an announcement on its website, Scoot listed out the affected routes, with many of the flights between Singapore and China. Outside of Asia, Scoot flights to Greece and Germany are also affected.
The suspension of some routes started on Friday (Mar 20).
On Monday morning, parent company Singapore Airlines (SIA) said Scoot would suspend most of its network, and would ground 47 of its fleet of 49 planes.
SIA will also be cutting 96 per cent of its capacity, grounding 138 of 147 planes.
The company called it the "greatest challenge that the SIA Group has faced in its existence".
"The SIA Group diversified its network and set up Scoot to spread its risks and cater to a wide range of passenger and market segments," the statement read.
"However, without a domestic segment, the group’s airlines become more vulnerable when international markets increasingly restrict the free movement of people or ban air travel altogether."
READ: No entry or transit through Singapore for all short-term visitors amid heightened risk of imported COVID-19 cases: MOH
For customers facing disruption to their travel plans, the airline said: “All affected customers, including those with multiple sectors that include the suspended flights, will be notified progressively and will receive a Scoot travel voucher on the unused portion of their itinerary within 30 business days. No further action is required.”
Other routes will also see frequency adjustments, the airline said, without specifying the destinations affected. Customers who are affected will be contacted directly.
“Scoot is continuing to monitor the situation and will make adjustments to our network as necessary,” it said.
Affected customers who were supposed to travel between Jan 23 and May 31 can either reroute to another Scoot destination, rebook the flight to a later travel date or get a 100 per cent refund of unused itinerary value through a Scoot travel voucher.
"For bookings made on or before Mar 15, 2020, for travel up to May 31, 2020, Scoot will be offering voucher refunds for the full value of bookings," the airline added.
It also set up a “self-service refund” portal on its website, which aims to ease the process of obtaining refunds, in the form of travel vouchers.
COVID-19 IMPACT ON AVIATION INDUSTRY
With an increasing number of countries enacting travel restrictions to curb the COVID-19 outbreak, analysts said Singapore is left “extremely vulnerable” due to its status as an aviation hub.
Earlier this month, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned the COVID-19 pandemic could cost passenger airlines up to US$113 billion (S$162.7 billion) in lost revenue this year.
Changi Airport reported a 32.8 per cent year-on-year decline in passenger movements in February due to COVID-19.
Singapore Airlines on Mar 17 said it would slash its capacity by 50 per cent, attributing the move to increasing travel restrictions amid the spread of COVID-19.
Just a day earlier, the national carrier said it would waive rebooking fees for tickets issued on or before Mar 15.
Separately, Singapore-based Jetstar Asia announced it was grounding its entire fleet of 18 Airbus 320 aircraft, with all flights suspended for at least three weeks, from Mar 23 to Apr 15.
Emirates announced on Sunday that it will “temporarily suspend" all its passenger operations from Mar 25 in light of the COVID-19 outbreak that has forced countries to close their borders. Cargo flights will operate as normal, the airline said.
It reversed its decision shortly after its announcement, and explained that it had "received requests from governments and customers to support the repatriation of travellers".
Emirates will continue to operate passenger flights to 13 destinations – down from its usual 159 – including flights to Singapore, Japan, UK and the US.