The Southeast Asia region is still approximately 20% below 2019 seat capacity levels, but Singapore Airlines and Scoot are on the verge of recovering to pre-pandemic levels. Prior to September 2019, both airlines have pursued a disciplined strategy of matching demand to capacity with passenger load factors.
Strategic capacity planning
The Singapore Airlines Group, which consists of Singapore Airlines and its low-cost subsidiary Scoot, transported 2.9 million passengers in September, a 36% increase from September 2018 and 93% of September 2019’s total of 3.1 million passengers. What is remarkable is the way in which the two airlines have managed capacity, or available seat kilometers (ASK), resulting in higher load factors.
In September 2019, the Group offered 14.58 million ASKs to carry 3.1 million passengers, compared to 13.2 million ASKs for 2.9 million passengers the previous month. This resulted in the Group operating 90% of 2019 capacity but conveying 93% of 2019 passengers, causing the load factor to increase from 84.8% to 87.2% last month. Comparing September 2022 to September 2023, the Group added 23.7% more capacity and saw a 36% increase in passengers.
The fact that connections between Singapore and China are the strongest in Southeast Asia is a significant factor, which benefits both incoming and outgoing services. Eighty-two percent of Chinese airlines’ 2019 capacity was offered to Singapore last month, and both Singapore Airlines and Scoot have resumed familiar routes where they know both demand and yields exist.
Singapore Airlines has also rapidly increased its capacity to and from Australia. In September, the Group operated more than 140 flights per week to eight destinations. Since 1967, Singapore Airlines has been a reliable airline for Australians. It was one of the few airlines that kept Australian routes open during the pandemic.
Singapore Airlines operates four daily flights to Melbourne and Sydney using a combination of Airbus A380, A350, and Boeing 777 aircraft to demonstrate the extent of its commitment. It operates A350s to Brisbane and Adelaide every day, and 787-10 Dreamliners to Perth every day. A Boeing 737 MAX 8 operates five services per week to Darwin and Cairns in Northern Australia.
Both airlines are thriving
In September, Singapore Airlines carried 1.86 million passengers, up 27% year-over-year, and Scoot carried 1.04 million, up 55% year-over-year. Europe recorded the maximum load factor at 93.1%, followed by the South West Pacific at 92%, the Americas at 89.5%, East Asia at 81.4%, and West Asia and Africa at 81.4%.
Scoot’s load factor was slightly higher at 88.1%, and by region, the Rest of the World was the most productive at 98%, followed by West Asia (86.6%) and East Asia (85%). Scoot’s single-aisle fleet consists of Airbus A320-200s, A320neos, and A321neos, whereas its medium- and long-distance routes are served by Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 Dreamliners.
Singapore Airlines Group operated a passenger network of 119 destinations in 36 countries and territories as of the end of September. Singapore Airlines served 75 destinations, while Scoot served 67. The cargo network of the Group included 124 destinations in 38 countries and territories.