Singapore Airlines to restore pre-Covid flight frequency to Indian cities
The Singapore Airlines Group (SIA), co-owner of Indian carrier Vistara, has planned to restore all flights in India to pre-pandemic levels by the end of October.
The airlines group will gradually increase its frequency to Indian cities. It will operate 17 weekly services to Chennai, up from the current 10 flights per week. Kochi services will go up to 14 times weekly, up from the current seven flights per week. Bengaluru services will go up to 16 times weekly, up from the current seven flights per week.
According to the SIA statement, the strong recovery in air travel that continued in May 2022 and even this month is because of Singapore's relaxed border restrictions which started in April, which removed "the need for quarantine and on-arrival COVID-19 tests for fully vaccinated travellers and removing pre-departure COVID-19 tests."
The SIA Group recorded its highest-ever first-quarter operating profit of Singapore Dollar (SGD) 556 million last week (USD 403 million) on "surging passenger demand".
Notably, this is the second-highest quarterly operating profit in the airline's history.
This new record came after SIA scraped positive territory with an SGD10 million (USD7.2 million) profit for the second half of the last financial year when it reported its full-year earnings in May. SIA's financial year is from April to March.
The SIA group made the progress in the first quarter as it recorded a net profit of SGD 370 million (USD 268 million), versus an SGD 210 million loss in the last quarter of the prior fiscal year. This means there was an improvement of SGD 580 million.
The lower share of losses of associated companies like Vistara also improved its performance by SGD 25 million.
SIA achieved an outstanding quarter by carefully calibrating its response to the pandemic and preparing itself for the pickup in demand.
In a statement, SIA said," The SIA Group has proactively reviewed all aspects of our operations since the start of the pandemic, ensuring that the entire organisation is ready to rapidly respond to changes in the operating environment.
Singapore Airlines and Scoot have been among the first carriers to launch services and start sales to points served out of Changi Airport since restrictions began to ease in September 2021. Group capacity ramped up from an average of 47 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in the fourth quarter of FY2021/22 to 61 per cent in the first quarter of FY2022/23, allowing it to capture the significant pent-up demand."
Unlike in Europe where airlines had to cut flights to manage travel demand, SIA is increasing the number of flights.
With travel demand picking up, the industry, in general, is finding itself in a situation where it is unable to hire and train workers fast enough after letting go thousands of workers during the pandemic. It is also unable to bring aircraft that was mothballed back into service fast enough.