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Sat, Jan 17, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Singapore Airlines cuts more than 200 flights

CLIPPED WINGS The city-state’s flag carrier is cutting flights between now and March to Hong Kong, New Delhi, Perth and London, among other destinations

AFP , SINGAPORE

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is cutting more than 200 flights to Australia, China, Europe and India in response to falling passenger numbers, the company and travel agents said yesterday.

Faced with the global economic slowdown, the carrier informed travel agents this week that 214 flights in all would be cut between now and March.

It said on Thursday that last month’s passenger numbers were down 7.5 percent year-on-year.

COST BURDEN

“We don’t want to be flying half-empty planes around the world any longer than we have to, because it increases our cost burden at a time when we can least afford that,” company spokesman Stephen Forshaw said.

“We want to make sure we match changes in capacity with the changes in demand that are occurring as a result of the economic slowdown,” Forshaw said.

Agents said flights would be cut between now and March to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Mumbai, New Delhi, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, London and Zurich.

SIA said on Thursday it carried 1.61 million passengers last month, compared with 1.74 million in December 2007.

It also filled almost 80 percent of seats, down 4.4 percentage points year-on-year.

FEELING THE PINCH

The city-state’s flag carrier said in November that net profit for the fiscal second quarter ending September fell 36.2 percent from the previous year, as the airline felt the pinch from the economic downturn.

Alicia Seah, a senior vice president at CTC Holidays travel agency, said many Singaporeans were opting for closer and cheaper holiday destinations such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

“What we see is that passengers are slowing down after Chinese New Year,” Seah said. “They are tightening their belts.”

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