Singapore Airlines to cut flights as COVID-19 outbreak hits demand

SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines (SIA) will temporarily cut flights across its global network in the three months to May, it said on Tuesday (Feb 18), as a coronavirus epidemic hits demand for services to the Asian city state, as well as through the key transit hub.

In the announcement published on its website, SIA provideda link to the list of flights that will be affected by the decision.



Key affected destinations include Frankfurt, Jakarta, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, Paris, Seoul, Sydney and Tokyo, the airline said.

“Singapore Airlines and SilkAir will temporarily reduce services across our network due to weak demand as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak,” the carrier said.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and make further adjustments as necessary.”



The airline added that affected customers will be “notified and re-accommodated onto other flights.

“If you have booked your tickets through a travel agency, please contact your agent for assistance. If you have booked your tickets directly with Singapore Airlines, please contact the SIA reservations team at (+65) 6223-8888 if you need any assistance,” the airline said.

The cuts follow major reductions already announced in services to mainland China and Hong Kong. In the Dec quarter, flights to mainland China made up 11 per cent of capacity for the airline, and more than that for budget arm Scoot.

“It’s not a surprise to see some cuts in flights, given the weak forward bookings that can be expected from the current environment,” said DBS analyst Paul Yong.

Demand on flights to South Korea and Japan had been hit hardest after China, Yong quoted Singapore Airlines' management team as having told analysts at a results briefing on Monday.

Those were the areas of the biggest cutbacks in Tuesday’s announcement.

Singapore’s tally of 77 cases of the virus is one of the highest outside mainland China, where more than 1,800 people have been killed in the epidemic.

Last week, the Asian tourism and travel hub said it expected visitor numbers to drop by a quarter or more this year, hit by the virus outbreak.

Besides visitors to the city-state, Singapore Airlines also relies heavily on transit traffic. Premium travel has suffered after many business events were cancelled across Asia because of the virus.

Hong Kong-based rival Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd has said it is cutting 40 per cent of capacity across its network, up from 30 per cent earlier, due to weak demand.

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