On Tuesday (18 Feb), Singapore Airlines (SIA) announced that due to the Covid-19 outbreak, it has decided to temporarily cancel flights across its global network for three months until May this year. The epidemic has dealt blows on the demand for services through the key transit hub and the Asian city state.
The website of SIA stated the key affected destinations which are Tokyo, Frankfurt, Sydney, Jakarta, Seoul, London, Paris, Los Angeles and Mumbai.
SIA remarked that “Singapore Airlines and SilkAir will temporarily reduce services across our network due to weak demand as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak..We will continue to monitor the situation and make further adjustments as necessary.”
To the question query by Reuters, SIA declined to answer as to what percentage of capacity it had to reduce on the grounds of commercial sensitivity.
These cuts in flight are done after the airline cut flight services to Hong Kong and mainland China. Flights to mainland China comprised 11 per cent of capacity for SIA in the December quarter, which is more than the capacity of its budget arm Scoot.
The analyst from the Singaporean financial services group, DBS, Paul Yong noted that “It’s not a surprise to see some cuts in flights, given the weak forward bookings that can be expected from the current environment.”
Flight destinations demand to Japan and South Korea was hit severely second only to China, according to Mr Yong who quoted what SIA told the analysts at the results briefing on Monday (17 Feb). Flights bound for Japan and South Korea had the most cutbacks based on the announcement on Tuesday.
With the number of Covid-19 infection cases at 77, Singapore’s tally is one of the highest outside of mainland China, where the Covid-19 outbreak took the lives of more than 1,800 individuals.
Singapore, which is the Asian travel and tourism hub, stated that it expected the number of tourists to fall by a quarter or more in 2020 due to the epidemic.
Aside from tourists to the city-state, SIA also depends heavily on transit traffic. Many business events across Asia have been cancelled due to Covid-19, and this has hurt premium travel as well.
Due to lower demand, Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, the Hong Kong-based airline announced that it too is slashing its capacity across its network by 40 per cent, which is an increase from the previous 30 per cent.