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April 16, 2024
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Airline results continue to show sharp contrasting fortunes these months, with deep losses suddenly changing for record profits. Singapore Airlines is no exception. It reported a $556 million net profit in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2022/2023, the second-highest in its long history. Singapore Airlines’ operating profit at near-record.

This all happened on the back of two very difficult Covid -years, with FY21/22 closed in March with a $-962 million net loss. But already that came after a strong final quarter, with Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) between cities pairs for fully-vaccinated travelers generating good money for Singapore.

This trend continued in Q1 (April-June), as passenger numbers for Singapore Airlines and Scoot continued to grow to 5.1 million compared to 2.0 million in Q4 and from just 362.000 in Q1 last year. It is also reflected in the revenues, which grew to $3.911 billion from $1.294 billion in Q1 of FY21/22. On the downside were higher expenses of $3.355 billion versus $1.569 billion last year, with net fuel costs quadrupling from $360.000 to $1.273 billion. The more than doubling of capacity (available seat kilometers) to 28.8 million from 12.6 million or 61 percent of 2019 levels is a factor in that, but the soaring jet fuel and oil prices are the main drivers. A $202 million benefit on hedging only slightly reduced the fuel bill.

Q1 ended with a $556 million operating profit compared to a $-274 million loss in Q1 last year, and a net profit of $370 million versus $409 million. This was way better even than Q4 when the Group reported a small $67 million operating loss and a $210 million net loss. The full reopening of Singapore in April immediately had an effect on travel, reflected by the 79 percent load factor that was by far the highest since the start of the pandemic.

Singapore Airlines is now flying to 72 destinations again and Scoot to 47. The low-cost carrier will grow frequencies in the coming winter season to Japan, Los Angeles, Paris, Bangkok, Manila, Seoul, Surabaya, and Cebu while returning to pre-pandemic levels in India.  

Cargo revenues slightly down

Cargo had earned Singapore good money during the Covid crisis, but in Q1 revenues were down by seventeen percent to $1.096 billion. The airline blames this on lockdowns in China, where strict rules were applied after the outbreak of Omicron. The loss of cargo to China was compensated by 2.2 higher yields to Europe.

Q1 produced a $1.480 billion cash surplus. SIA Group ended June with $16.1 billion in cash and cash equivalents, a plus of $2.3 billion thanks to forward payments from operations. It has $2.2 billion available in undrawn credit facilities. Net debt remained unchanged at $15.7 billion.

Singapore Airlines ended the quarter with 127 passenger aircraft and seven freighters. It took delivery of two Airbus A350-900s and one Boeing MAX 8, but that aircraft will first get a cabin retrofit before entering service. The MAX 8s that were delivered in Q4 entered service in Q1. Scoot’s fleet included 55 aircraft and received one A321neo, which entered service together with two that were delivered in the previous quarter.

In Q2, Singapore Airlines Group expects to operate at 68 percent capacity. Forward sales until October are strong. Despite concerns over inflation and geopolitical issues (Ukraine), the airline group is seeing robust demand for air travel. It isn’t giving guidance for Q2 or the rest of the financial year, however, saying that it will keep a tight rein on costs and respond flexibly to any challenges. 

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Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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