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Singapore Airlines Expects Lift From Reopenings in Japan, Taiwan

Edward Russell

November 4th, 2022 at 11:55 AM EDT

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777

Singapore Airlines is adding back flights to meet travel demand at a rapid clip this winter. Fukuoka, Hong Kong, Osaka, Sapporo, and Taipei, to name a few, will all see more frequencies as more East Asian markets ease Covid travel restrictions.

“Forward sales are expected to remain buoyant in the coming months leading up to the Lunar New Year period,” Singapore Airlines said Friday in its first-half earnings release for the fiscal year that ends in March. During the six-month period, the carrier posted a 15 percent operating margin on a S$1.2 billion ($851 million) operating profit, a record for Singapore Airlines.

In December, Singapore Airlines will operate 86 percent of its 2019 system capacity, according to Diio by Cirium schedules. And on Japan and Taiwan — two markets where it expects demand to spike — capacity will be at 63 percent of pre-pandemic levels; a 14 point jump from September, the last full month of the airline’s summer schedule.

It seems, as predicted, Asian travelers have just as much pent-up demand as those in every other global market when travel restrictions fall. From American Airlines to the Lufthansa Group and Qantas Airways, executives have talked about surges in demand when people are free to travel. Each of these carriers, and many others, have also faced challenges — from staffing shortages to supply chain issues — that have proven it may be harder to recover from Covid than it was to pulldown at the outset of the crisis.

Singapore’s Changi Airport, in response to rapidly rising passenger numbers, reopened Terminal 4 in September after a 28-month pandemic closure. While Singapore Airlines does not operate from the facility, the reopening adds space at the airport to support the recovery in traffic and airline schedules underway. Changi Executive Vice President of Airport Management Tan Lye Teck said in July that the terminal provided the airport with “much needed capacity,” especially during the busy year-end holidays.

Changi expects the number of flight operations to hit 80 percent of pre-Covid levels by December, or up from about 66 percent in September, the latest month with data available.

Singapore Airlines saw “robust” travel demand from passengers for all of its products in every region but East Asia, where restrictions were still largely in place, during the six months ending in September. This allowed Singapore Airlines to resume many of its global routes and fly roughly 68 percent of pre-pandemic capacity by the end of the period.

And operationally, Singapore Airlines and its budget subsidiary Scoot are “on track to hire” roughly 3,000 new flight attendants by March. In addition, the airline has restarted its pilot training program.

The carrier plans to operate roughly 76 percent of pre-Covid capacity during the six months ending in March.

After Lunar New Year, which falls on January 22, Singapore Airlines said the numerous macro concerns facing the global economy could “pose challenges” to both passenger and cargo demand. It did not provide a financial forecast for the full fiscal year ending in March.

Edward Russell

November 4th, 2022 at 11:55 AM EDT

Tags: Asia-Pacific

Photo credit: A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 Singapore Airlines

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