Depressed demand for air travel has battered Singapore Airlines’ June operations. The airline’s June capacity was 94.0% lower than in June 2019. Passenger carriage declined 99.1%, resulting in an average load factor of just 12.4%
Closed borders hammer passenger traffic numbers
In June, Singapore Airlines flew to just 24 destinations. Usually, it flies to 130 plus destinations. As an entirely international airline, international border closures and the broader travel downturn have severely impacted the airline.
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For several months, Singapore closed its borders to all travelers, including transit passengers. Before that, Singapore Airlines used its home base as a hub to funnel tens of millions of passengers annually onto other flights.
In June 2019, the airline had 10,669 million seat kilometers available. In June 2020, it had 641 million seat kilometers available, a decline of 94%.
Of those 10,669 million seat kilometers available last June, Singapore Airlines filled 86.7% of them. This June, it filled 12.4% of its available 641 million seat kilometers.
A slight uptick on the May figures
However grim these figures are, it’s an improvement on the May and April numbers. In May, Singapore Airlines filled just 9.2% of 481 million available seat kilometers. Before that, in April, the airline filled 9.3% of 464.2 million available seat kilometers.
At the time, with the outlook so uncertain, Singapore Airlines said;
“The group will maintain a minimum flight connectivity within its network during this period while ensuring the flexibility to scale up if there is an uptick in demand.”
In June, Singapore’s Changi Airport re-opened to some transit traffic. While the relaxation of Singapore’s border controls is welcome news for the airline, passenger numbers remain down. Singapore Airlines carried just 13,900 passengers in June. In contrast, the airline carried 1,883,500 passengers in June 2019.
The relaxation of border controls, both at Singapore and elsewhere, is welcomed by the airline. But business is not bouncing back as quickly as Singapore Airlines originally predicted.
On the back of the depressed demand for airline travel, Singapore Airlines says it expects to post a material operating loss in the first quarter of the 2020/21 financial year.
SQ’s service to LAX the star performer
Load factors are lowest on flights to Europe. Recently updated schedules show Singapore Airlines maintaining reduced flights into Paris, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Barcelona, Zurich, Amsterdam, and London. These flights operated in June with a load factor of 10.2%.
Flights into Oceania and the southwest Pacific operated with load factors of 12.6% across June. Currently, Singapore Airlines is maintaining reduced flights to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, and Christchurch.
Singapore Airlines flights into East Asia had load factors of 13.1% in June. The airline is still flying to Jakarta, Medan, Manila, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Chongqing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Osaka, Narita, and Seoul.
The best performing flights in June went to the Americas were the load factors averaged 17.9%. Singapore Airlines’ sole current destination in this part of the world is Los Angeles.
Flights to West Asia and Africa remain suspended or are operated by other airlines within the Singapore Airlines group.
Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines is striking a pessimistic tone. The airline cites IATA and ICAO, who have a negative outlook regarding a near term recovery in passenger traffic around the world. Singapore Airlines quotes industry experts who believe it will take two to four years for demand to return to 2019 levels.
With that in mind, there’s not much to look forward too when the next round of monthly figures gets released by Singapore Airlines.