Singapore Airlines plans to increase flights to India as demand picks up

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Buoyed by a strong recovery in travel demand in the Indian market, Singapore Airlines plans to increase the number of flights to India where the group is currently operating to around 75% of its pre-pandemic capacity. The Singapore Airlines Group (SIA), consisting of full-service carrier Singapore Airlines and low-cost airline Scoot, currently flies to 13 destinations across India.

A senior Singapore Airlines executive said the carrier plans to announce more flights to India in the coming months. “The Indian market is also recovering very strongly. We are seeing good load factors…we can hopefully announce flight increases over the next couple of schedules…either for the winter schedule from October or even for next year,” Lee Lik Hsin, commercial executive vice president at Singapore Airlines, told reporters during an interaction at Changi Airport here.

Currently, Singapore Airlines operates 73 weekly flights to Singapore from eight Indian cities – Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Kochi and Hyderabad. Scoot operates 38 flights from six cities – Amritsar, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Tiruchirappalli, Trivandrum and Visakhapatnam. According to an airline spokesperson, the SIA Group is currently operating around 75% of its pre-COVID capacity.

After being suspended for just over two years, scheduled international commercial passenger flights resumed to and from India on March 27 this year. Since then, there has been a strong demand for air travel.

Singapore Airlines spokesman said market feedback indicates India’s current outbound traffic mainly comprises pent-up leisure traffic, while business travel will take longer to return to pre-existing levels the pandemic. Besides resuming Airbus A380 aircraft services from Mumbai and Delhi, the airline in January launched its new Boeing 737-8 product from Hyderabad, Kochi and Kolkata. This includes seats that recline into fully flat beds in business class.

Speaking on overall travel demand, Lee Lik Hsin said there is a “very rapid recovery phase that we are seeing right now.” “We will put in place 61% capacity by the end of June, 67% by the end of September … very, very strong load factors for April,” he added. In April, the load factor of the SIA group increased by 18%.

On another question, Lee Lik Hsin said rising fuel costs are a concern for any airline. “We try to exercise as much cost discipline as possible on other aspects under our control. Fuel is an aspect that we do not control. We are covered for the current year at 40%. We have a certain protection to that extent, but the rest depends (on) market forces,” he noted.As to whether there might be a fare hike given rising fuel prices, he said prices are a function of supply and demand.

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