The global economic slowdown is not daunting Singapore Airlines' (SIA) ambitious fleet upgrade strategy, innovations to woo passengers or its zeal to expand its footholds abroad. \nPassenger and cargo loads for Asia's most profitable carrier have slid and analysts expect net profits to shrink for the fiscal year ending March 2002, but top executives have ruled out any knee jerk reactions. \n"We always plan on the basis that the economy cycles up and down," said vice-president Bey Soo Khiang. "We work on the basis of a consistent sustainable growth." \nSince taking delivery of two Boeing 777-200 long-range aircraft in July, SIA has converted three more options for the planes into firm orders worth an estimated US$480 million. \nStressing SIA will continue with its fleet renewal plans despite the vagaries of the world economy, Bay said negotiations are under way for routes to new US destinations. \nThe aircraft are part of a US$12.7 billion order by SIA in 1995 and its leasing affiliate for 77 Boeing 777s, the largest single order in civilian aircraft history. \nIn a bid to woo more business passengers, SIA is spending US$100 million on "SpaceBeds" for long-haul flights to Europe, Australia, Asia and North America, with the first to be introduced in November. The reclining seats rely on a cushioning substance developed for NASA which conforms to fit the contours of a passenger's body. \n"This is part of our plan to work on new products all the time," said senior vice-president Yap Kim Wah. \nA more advanced inflight entertainment system is to be progressively fitted to all B747s and B777s. SIA emerged as the first airline to introduce an e-mail and Web-surfing service earlier this year. \nThe zeal for expanding its presence globally has not waned during its prolonged battle for control of Air New Zealand, which owns struggling Ansett, the No. 2 domestic Australian carrier. \nQantas has threatened to look for a partner outside the region if the New Zealand government allows SIA to up its 25 percent stake to 49 percent, requiring the lifting of a foreign ownership cap. \n"SIA has been lobbying hard," said Tan Ee Ching, aviation analyst with Independent Economic Analysis. "Success would mean the expanded presence SIA wants and a boost to earnings." \nQantas maintains an SIA-Air New Zealand-Ansett combination would leave it unable to compete and has offered an alternative proposal under which it would buy SIA's stake in Air New Zealand and sell Ansett to SIA. \nIn one tirade, Qantas said the SIA proposal would create a "behemoth." British Airways has a 25 percent stake in Qantas. \nAir New Zealand chief executive Gary Toomey insists SIA has offered the only reasonable solution and can meet all the conditions of the government. \nThe carrier "is fast approaching the point of no return" Toomey told a business gathering in Auckland. \nIn tandem with the Tata Group, SIA, which is 56 percent government-owned, is also bidding for a stake in loss-making Air India.SIA owns 49 percent of Virgin Atlantic, but a potential venture with Air China collapsed and an attempt at a deal with South African Airways also failed. \n"It would be quite bad for earnings" if the New Zealand government is not convinced, said Tan, citing the drop in SIA's overall load factor amid high fuel prices, shrinking electronics exports and weakening demand for air travel. \nThe load factor, a measure of how efficiently an airline uses passenger and cargo capacity, slid 3.1 percentage points year-on-year to 69.7 in June. \nAnalysts expect SIA's net profit to shrink to about S$1.1 billion (US$617 million) for the fiscal year from the S$1.53 billion chalked up in 2001. \nBack in Auckland, Toomey said SIA is "interested in securing a stronger position in the airline industry of our region." He hailed that as "really encouraging."
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
BRIBERY CASE: President Tsai Ing-wen accepted Su Jia-chyuan’s resignation as he said that he deeply regretted causing trouble for the president due to the investigation Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) yesterday resigned after his nephew, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), was implicated in a bribery case related to a dispute over the ownership of Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨). “I resigned from the post so that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would not be bothered by it anymore, and the prosecutors can investigate the case in a fair and just manner. I thank President Tsai once again for supporting me. May the country continue to prosper under her leadership,” Su Jia-chyuan said in a statement. The Presidential Office said that Tsai has accepted
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did