SINGAPORE - More than 1.45 million passengers flew on Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Scoot planes in total in April - a 62.7 per cent increase from March, and more than 10 times the number of passengers the two airlines carried over the same period last year.
This comes on the back of a major easing of border restrictions in Singapore and around the world, which also led to passenger volumes at Changi Airport doubling and reaching close to 40 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels as at end-April.
About 1.93 million passengers passed through Changi last month, according to statistics published on Changi Airport Group’s website on Tuesday (May 17).
In March, 1.14 million passengers passed through the airport - the first time the one million mark was crossed since borders were shut due to Covid-19 in March 2020.
Releasing its latest operating results on Tuesday (May 17), SIA Group - which operates the national carrier SIA and budget carrier Scoot - said demand for air travel increased significantly after Singapore reopened its borders fully to travellers vaccinated against Covid-19 on April 1, and removed requirements for pre-departure testing on April 26.
Many key markets also relaxed their border measures further, SIA Group added, which led to the company posting its highest passenger load factor since the pandemic started more than two years ago.
In April, 72.7 per cent of the available seating capacity on both SIA and Scoot flights were filled, an 18.2 percentage point increase from the previous month and a 59 percentage point increase year on year.
The passenger load factor improved across all route regions for both airlines, SIA Group added. The group's passenger capacity last month was also up by six percentage points, reaching 57 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels, the firm said.
Last month, SIA resumed operations to Davao and Cebu in the Philippines, while Scoot resumed services to Hat Yai in Thailand and Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia.
As at end-April, SIA Group's passenger network covered 95 destinations, including Singapore, with SIA serving 71 destinations and Scoot serving 45.
The resumption of passenger flights also led to a 35.1 per cent increase in cargo capacity for SIA last month, but pandemic controls in China affected demand and more belly-hold space was allocated to carry passenger baggage, causing cargo loads to dip by 2.1 per cent compared with March, SIA Group said.
SIA's cargo load factor for the month of April was at 66.7 per cent, 25.4 percentage points lower compared with the same period in 2021.
During a panel discussion at the inaugural Changi Aviation Summit on Tuesday, SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong said the airline can now quickly move to serve new destinations or increase frequencies in order to capture demand.
This is after it had cut down the time it took to make such decisions from weeks and months to mere days over the course of the pandemic.
According to The Business Times, Mr Goh said SIA has been readying its operational resources since the start of Covid-19, and being operationally ready allows it to make changes at short notice and deploy resources where needed, such as when China finally decides to reopen its borders.
“China is pretty much closed today, but whenever China is ready and whenever we are allowed operations, you can be sure that we would be there,” he told attendees at the summit held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre.
Before the pandemic, SIA Group served 29 points in China, making it one of the largest carriers in the country by number of destinations served.