Airline News

June 2010

1st Jun 2010

SIA overcomes first-half loss to post full-year profit

Despite a first-half loss of S$466 million (US$331.6 million), Singapore Airlines (SIA) turned a profit of S$215.8 million for the full year ended 31 March, maintaining its unbroken record of annual profitability.

Revenue hit S$12.07 billion, a drop of 20.56 percent, while expenditure was S$12.64 billion, down 16.23 percent. The airline carried 16.48 million passengers, fewer than the year-earlier total of 18.29 million, although average load factor rose 1.9 percentage points to 78.4 percent, as the airline reduced capacity.

In the last quarter of the financial year, SIA took delivery of three Airbus A330-300s and decommissioned one Boeing 747-400 and one 777-200. A new, five-times weekly service to Munich using 777-300ER aircraft was launched on 28 March and the carrier’s ten weekly 777-300ER services to Zurich were upgraded to a daily Airbus A380-800 service.

The all-business class A340-500 service to Newark returned to normal daily operations in January. On the other hand, services to Karachi, Pakistan, and Nanjing, China, were withdrawn in February and March respectively, while frequencies to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City and Guangzhou, China, were reduced due to tough competition from low-cost carriers.

A new service to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport will be launched in October and frequencies to Hong Kong, Delhi and Seoul will be increased.

On 29 April, SIA signed an agreement to lease six 777-200s to Royal Brunei Airlines for a period of between two to two-and-a-half years. An agreement to sell four 777-200s to Transaero Airlines was concluded on 3 May.

SIA predicts fuel costs will continue to be a concern for the group this year, adding that it is difficult to predict how the price of fuel will fluctuate over the next 12 months. The group’s jet-fuel requirement is projected to be 33 million barrels. The company plans to hedge at least a fifth of that amount.

Advance travel bookings for the year ahead are encouraging, especially in business class, the carrier says. Similarly, forward indicators suggest that the recent recovery in air cargo volume will be sustained in the near term. Passenger and cargo yields should keep pace with the growth in demand.

“The sustainability of this improvement depends on developments in the world economy and on business, and consumer confidence,” SIA says.

From May through to March 2011, SIA will take delivery of four A380-800s and eight A330-300s, while one 747-400 will be returned to the lessor and ten 777-200s will be retired from the fleet.

SIA currently operates a fleet of 10 A380-800s, seven 747-400s, 75 777s, five A340-500s and 11 A330-300s.

Air India Express crash kills 158

An Air India Express (AIE) Boeing 737-800 overshot the hilltop runway at Mangalore International Airport (MAI) on 22 May after attempting to land in fine weather, killing 152 of the 160 passengers and six crew members aboard.

Flight IX812 from Dubai to Mangalore was unable to stop in time at the end of Runway 24 and plunged 90 metres off a cliff into a forest, breaking in two at the wing and bursting into flames.

According to M Chandrashekar, an official of the Ministry of Civil Aviation in Delhi, initial investigations show that the pilot intended to abort the landing, but failed to pull up after the aircraft touched down far along the 2.4km runway. Visibility was said to be good, at 3000m on final approach. There was no indication that flight IX812 was in distress prior to touchdown.

The eight survivors were those who sat in the wing area where the fuselage snapped.
The aircraft’s flight recorders have yet to be recovered. The 737 was delivered to Air India in early 2008.

Mumbai-based AIE is a low-cost carrier (LCC) wholly-owned by Air India. It was set up in 2006 due to fierce competition from the slew of new LCCs that had surfaced in the Indian market.

AIE operates a fleet of 24 737-800s, all configured to seat 180 in a single-class layout. It has a network of 14 international and 17 domestic destinations. This is the seventh crash involving Air India or its subsidiary since 1978.

MAI is located on a hilltop, with the runway landing approaches on either end leading up to steep drops. The east end of the runway is 500m from the drop, while the west end is just 83m away. An Indian airport official said the unevenness of the runway makes landing very challenging.

Asian Aviation at a glance