SIA shares fall to 21-year low after record loss

Planes from the Singapore Airlines at Changi Airport on March 20, 2020. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Shares of Singapore Airlines (SIA) fell to their lowest in more than 21 years on Thursday (July 30) after the carrier posted its biggest quarterly loss ever as the coronavirus wiped out travel demand.

The shares fell as much as 5.1 per cent to $3.35, the lowest intraday price since September 1998, before paring to $3.40 as of 1.44pm in Singapore. The stock, which has declined by almost half this year, was among the worst performers on Thursday on a Bloomberg gauge of carriers in the Asia-Pacific region.

Air traffic the world over has plunged because the pandemic led to tight border controls and a reluctance to travel. The International Air Transport Association said on Tuesday the airline industry is unlikely to recover fully before 2024. The situation is particularly difficult for carriers like Singapore Airlines that have no domestic market to cushion the blow.

SIA's net loss in the three months through June was $1.12 billion, compared with net income of $111 million a year earlier. Sales dropped 79 per cent to $851 million, and traffic measured by revenue passenger per kilometre sank 99.5 per cent.

CGS-CIMB analyst Raymond Yap cut his recommendation on SIA to hold from add following the results. He has a $3.55 price target on the stock.

SIA said on Wednesday its passenger capacity still may be less than half of pre-coronavirus levels by the end of its fiscal year next March.

The airline also said it is reviewing its network to determine the size and mix of its fleet over the longer term. The review, which should be completed by the end of this quarter, could lead to a material impairment of about $1 billion on the carrying values of older generation aircraft, particularly Airbus SE A380s, SIA said.

The carrier's fuel hedging policy led to a $535 million loss in the quarter, while there was also a $127 million hit from the liquidation of NokScoot Airlines. SIA owned a 49 per cent stake in the low-cost Thai carrier that collapsed in June.

SIA was operating only to 24 cities by the end of June. Its SilkAir unit ceased most operations except for flights to Chongqing, China, and it suspended flights to the Thai resort island of Koh Samui. Low-cost unit Scoot operated a minimal network to cities such as Hong Kong and Perth.

Passenger capacity at the end of the second quarter is forecast to be about 7 per cent of the level before Covid-19. Out of a fleet of 213 passenger aircraft, only 32 are being deployed, the airline said.

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