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Covid-19: Singapore Airlines cuts 96% of capacity, grounds 138 planes as countries tighten border controls

SINGAPORE — Singapore Airlines (SIA) will cut 96 per cent of the capacity that had been originally scheduled up to end-April, as border controls tighten worldwide due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Covid-19: Singapore Airlines cuts 96% of capacity, grounds 138 planes as countries tighten border controls

Singapore Airlines said that it would be grounding 138 SIA and SilkAir planes, out of a total fleet of 147, to tackle the “greatest challenge” that SIA Group has faced in its existence.

SINGAPORE — Singapore Airlines (SIA) will cut 96 per cent of the capacity that had been originally scheduled up to end-April, as border controls tighten worldwide due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

In a statement on Monday (March 23), SIA said that it would be grounding 138 SIA and SilkAir planes, out of a total fleet of 147, to tackle the “greatest challenge” that SIA Group has faced in its existence.

The company’s low-cost carrier Scoot will also suspend most of its network, grounding 47 of its 49 aircraft.

The collapse in the demand for air travel has led to a "significant decline" in its passenger revenues, the airline added, requiring it to actively take steps to “build up its liquidity and to reduce capital expenditure and operating costs.”

SIA added that it has drawn on its lines of credit "over the last few days" to meet its immediate cash flow requirements, and is engaging in discussions with financial institutions for its future funding requirements.

Other steps taken include discussions with aircraft manufacturers to defer upcoming aircraft deliveries and salary cuts for management, fee cuts for directors and a voluntary no-pay leave scheme up to certain management positions.

"Given the worsening situation, the unions have been engaged on the additional cost-cutting measures that are needed and more steps will be taken imminently," the airline said.

"It is unclear when the SIA Group can begin to resume normal services, given the uncertainty as to when the stringent border controls will be lifted."

SIA said it had diversified its network and set up Scoot to spread its risk and cater to a wide range of passenger and market segments. However, without a domestic segment, its airlines are more vulnerable when international markets restrict people's movements and ban air travel.

It added that it will continue to "explore measures to shore up its liquidity during this unprecedented disruption to global air travel" and will release further details when the measures have been firmed up.

When asked by TODAY which flights would still be in service after the latest cuts, a spokesperson said SIA and SilkAir would "continue to operate selected services to points around their network”. 

This will be gradually scaled down in the coming weeks, the SIA spokesperson added, without elaborating. 

"Customers should check our website for the latest information on our services. For Scoot, please contact them directly for information on their flight operations,” said the spokesperson.

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