Global aviation industry in serious crisis


Back in 2019, where Singapore Airlines, the world’s top-ranking airline welcomed over 1.8 million passengers on-board, meaning almost 60,000 passengers per day, due to the current coronavirus pandemic crisis, in May 2020, the SIA Group’s airlines recorded a 99.6 percent year-on-year decline in passenger carriage, as travel demand was severely impacted by the pandemic, with border controls and travel restrictions remaining in place around the world. Overall passenger capacity… was cut by 96.2 percent in response. Passenger load factor – fell to 8.6 percent.

In May 2020, Singapore Airlines flew only 8,600 passengers on 299 passenger flights, meaning just 29 passengers per flight. That’s a 99.5 percent drop in passengers compared with May 2019. Load factor dropped from 79.8 percent to just 9.2 percent, meaning social distancing was not an issue as the average passenger had over 10 seats to themselves.

As a point of comparison, each of Singapore Airlines’ Boeing 787-10 aircraft has 337 passenger seats. Even an A350 Regional with 303 seats could easily accommodate the airline’s daily average passenger load.

In June 2020, Singapore Airlines revealed its ‘new customer journey’ as the airline began ramping up its schedule by around 75% from May 2020’s low point. Meaning, May 2020 low point is already going down the history.

On the other hand, SilkAir’s passenger carriage decreased by 99.8 percent against a 99.6 percent cut in capacity. Passenger load factor declined to 31.7 percent. During the month of May, SilkAir only operated flights between Singapore and Chongqing.

In May 2020, Scoot Airlines, a member of the SIA group carried only 600 passengers on its 56 flights to and from both Perth and Hong Kong, compared to 1,100 passengers on 48 such flights in April 2020. The average number of passengers on each Boeing 787-9 was therefore just 11 – half the 23 the airline saw in March. That is a fraction of the 375 available seats, though the airline is continuing to take advantage of significantly enhanced cargo capacity using this type.

With a load factor of 2.7 percent, each passenger flying on Scoot in May 2020 enjoyed 37 seats to themselves, on average. The airline’s Boeing 787-9 aircraft have at least 11 crew on board, including pilots – meaning the crew must have outnumbered the passengers on many services during the past few months.

During the coronavirus pandemic, one saving grace for the SIA group continues to be cargo, with the collective freight load factor across all carriers in the group up from 60.5 percent in May 2019 to an impressive 74.9 percent in May 2020.

Cargo volumes themselves fell sharply, however, from just over 107.8 million tons in May 2019 to 45.2 million tons in May 2020, due to the significant reduction in capacity with the vast majority of the airline’s passenger fleet either grounded or only flying once per week or so.

As to Singapore Airlines, no one will be celebrating these statistics, reflecting the lowest-ever monthly passenger total since SIA commenced operation nearly 48 years ago.

With short-term visitors still prohibited from entering Singapore and with no domestic market to serve, all three passenger airlines in the SIA group have since been almost completely unable to tap into any passenger demand due to the widespread travel restrictions imposed almost globally.

It is not only with Singapore Airlines of those member airlines in the SIA group. All other airlines in the world currently are facing terrific challenges due to a heavy decline in the number of passengers. Most importantly, no one really knows exactly when the world may get liberated from the crisis posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Although there is hope for the world of getting Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2020, the global economy for sure is going to face a grand recession or depression, which may continue for at least another two years. During this upcoming global economic challenge, most definitely the airline companies will see a heavy decline in the number of first-class and business-class passengers, as people would either willingly or under compulsion avoid luxuries in every walks of their lives.


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