SINGAPORE: November saw a 97.7 per cent year-on-year fall in overall passenger carriage for the Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group, with demand for air travel still "weak" amid border controls and travel restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Announcing its November operating results, the SIA group said on Tuesday (Dec 15) that passenger carriage for SIA declined 97.3 per cent year-on-year in November, while passenger carriage for Silkair fell 98.7 per cent year-on-year.
Budget carrier Scoot saw its passenger carriage fall by 99.1 per cent year-on-year.
SIA added four cities to its network - Brunei, Fukuoka, New York and Shenzhen - to bring its total to 36 cities. SilkAir added Kathmandu to its list of destinations.
Cargo capacity and traffic were more than 20 per cent higher in November than in October, with all route regions continuing to record year-on-year increases in cargo load factor.
“Cargo load factor was 22.4 percentage points higher year-on-year as the capacity contraction of 49.8 per cent year-on-year outpaced the 32 per cent decline in cargo traffic (measured in freight tonne-kilometres),” said the SIA Group.
ADDING CITIES FOR TRANSIT
The air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong has been deferred "beyond December" amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in the Chinese city. An exact start date will be reviewed later this month.
"While the start of the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble has been postponed, there
are reports that similar arrangements could be made with other countries with low COVID-19 infection rates," the group said.
Singapore has also continued to add cities from which passengers can transfer, through Singapore, to other destinations, it said, adding that SIA will reinstate flights to San Francisco and Nagoya from December.
The group said it was looking forward to a "gradual recovery" in passenger operations as countries and regions explore ways to safely reopen borders, with the appropriate protocols in place.
DISTRIBUTION OF COVID-19 VACCINES
Developments in the production and distribution of vaccines also support "growing optimism" on the potential recovery of air travel, said the group.
“Amid rapid developments in the testing and production of COVID-19 vaccines globally, SIA has made preparations to meet one of the largest and most important logistical challenges in recent history – the safe and effective distribution of these vaccines around the world,” the group added.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Monday that the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has approved the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, with the first shipment due to arrive in Singapore by the end of December.
He added that Singapore’s status as an aviation hub means the country plays a “crucial role” in transporting vaccines around the world.
"SIA’s extensive network connectivity, as well as the well-developed pharmaceutical
handling capabilities at Singapore’s Changi Airport, positions Singapore well as a key
transit hub for the transportation and distribution of vaccines, in particular from Europe
and India to South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand," said SIA group on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, SIA said it would prioritise cargo capacity to transport COVID-19 vaccines when they become available.
The group said on Tuesday it would "accord uplift priority" to COVID-19 vaccine shipments across key vaccine trade lanes.
It will prepare seven Boeing 747-400 freighters to do this and passenger aircraft will also be deployed on cargo operations to increase the capacity for vaccine transportation where needed.