LONDONThe Straits Times has reported that Singapore Airlines (SQ) will increase flights gradually, up to 15% of its total capacity, by the end of the year.

This is a fresh and positive announcement following the decision to cut 4,300 jobs in the airline due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has hit SQ very hard, having gone from recording its first loss in its 48-year history to securing up to S$10bn in liquidity to remain afloat.

This has meant that as well as job cuts having to take place, the staff at the group have had to take unpaid leave as well, with the Singaporean Government doing all it can to support the sector too.

Photo: Francesco Cecchetti

Gradual Launches

The airline will begin to restart flights to Brunei (BWN, Fukuoka (FUK), Kathmandu (KTM), and Male (MLE) over the next three months, with the help of its subsidiary Silk Air (MI).

The carrier has also been very confident in terms of demand, with services to Bangkok (BKK) increasing to daily from December.

Daily flights to Melbourne (MEL) will be in place by November, going up to twice daily on most days by December. On top of this, frequencies will increase on services to Dhaka (DAC), Hong Kong (HKG), and Amsterdam (AMS), as part of the airline’s plan for a return to some level of normality.

Photo: James Field

More Cancellations on the Way

The airline regretted the announcement to customers that all other flights scheduled to run between this month all the way up to December have been canceled. However, by the end of November, SQ will be most of the way there in terms of its growth target of 15%, with an 11% target set for that time period.

It has forecasted also that it will achieve 50% of its pre-COVID schedule by March 2021, showing the very slow and gradual restart to operations.

Photo: James Field

A Positively Strict Singapore

The Singaporean Government in recent times has taken very strictly, and arguably much-needed actions in order to protect the country. This has unfortunately been at the detriment to SQ.

Back in March, the airline announced it had cut capacity as well as grounded aircraft, before extending cancellations through to May this year. In June, the airline had announced plans to restart services to Auckland (AKL) and Christchurch (CHC) following some COVID-19 exemptions being added by Singapore and New Zealand.

Even with such strict rules in place, the airline was able to adapt to this and boosted its onboard health and safety measures as well as ensuring its financial solvency. For other carriers, such as Malindo Air (OD) and Japan Airlines (JL), there has been some sort of return to normality, with services resuming and returning.

Photo: Luca Flores

Clearer Road Ahead?

It remains clear that the Singaporean Government would not have allowed these route resumptions without having some element of confidence over the spread of the virus.

All eyes will now be on SQ and the government in order to determine how fast the spread of the virus will come back to the country as a result of such route resumptions. Eyes will also be on the carrier to see how quickly it will bounce back from this pandemic as well as seeing what the demand will be for such flights.

Featured Image: Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900. Photo Credit: Luca Flores