SIA passenger carriage down in Feb

SINGAPORE Airlines (SIA) reported a decline in passenger carriage in February, partly on the back of softer demand for Bangkok due to the political protests.

SIA - which typically operates around five flights a day to Bangkok - had announced previously that it was cutting flights to the troubled Thai capital following weaker demand.

In February, SIA's systemwide passenger carriage (measured in revenue passenger kilometres) declined 2.1 per cent while capacity was scaled back by 0.4 per cent (measured in available seat kilometres). As a result, this caused passenger load factor (PLF) to decline 1.4 percentage points to 76.8 per cent, while the number of passengers carried decreased by 1.8 per cent year-on-year to 1.4 million.

Another reason for the decline in passenger carriage was that demand from Chinese New Year shifted to January this year. Last year, Chinese New Year was in February.

"The operating environment continues to remain challenging," SIA said in a release to the Singapore Exchange yesterday. "Efforts to stimulate demand to maintain loads will continue to place downward pressure on yields."

The carrier has said in the past that yields are being compressed due to stiff competition and "unfavourable exchange rate movements" on key revenue-generating currencies.

Regional wing SilkAir saw a 0.3 per cent rise year-on-year in passenger carriage in February, which was outpaced by a 4.4 per cent growth in capacity, coming from East Asia and the Pacific. This pushed PLF down 2.9 percentage points to 71.5 per cent. But the number of passengers carried edged up 0.4 per cent to 262,000.

Meanwhile, SIA Cargo reported a drop in both cargo traffic (measured in freight tonne kilometres) and capacity of 11.1 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively in February. As a result, cargo load factor fell 4.6 percentage points to 58.1 per cent. "Load factors were lower on all route regions mainly due to weaker seasonal demand that was further affected by the Lunar New Year lull period," said SIA.

The counter closed at $10.22 on Monday, up two cents.

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