Blue skies are here for Singapore Airlines Limited (SGX: C6L), or SIA.
After a turbulent two years, the airline is reporting strong numbers as it witnesses a surge in demand for air travel.
SIA and its budget carrier Scoot were among the first carriers to launch services when restrictions eased in September last year.
This move allowed the group to capture pent-up demand for travel, thus accelerating its recovery.
For its fiscal 2022/2023 first quarter (1Q2023) ended on 30 June 2022, SIA reported its second-highest operating profit on record.
Here are five other things you need to know about the airline’s latest results.
1. Soaring revenue and profits
Total revenue for SIA tripled year on year from S$1.3 billion to S$3.9 billion for 1Q2023.
Singapore threw open its borders to vaccinated travellers in April this year, resulting in the carrier enjoying buoyant demand for travel bookings.
Two quarters ago, SIA benefitted from the expansion of the vaccinated travel lanes (VTL) scheme, and this momentum carried on as Singapore reopened its borders tentatively in the previous quarter.
This sharp jump in revenue is expected to be sustained as SIA heads into the holiday period with forward sales staying healthy up till October 2022.
Operating profit came in at S$556 million, reversing from an operating loss of S$274 million in 1Q2022.
Net profit stood at S$370 million for the quarter.
2. Rising capacity and load factor
The April to June period this year saw a significant jump in passenger numbers for SIA.
As borders reopened in April, passenger numbers shot up above the one million mark that month and have been rising ever since.
For 1Q2023, total passengers carried came up to 5.1 million, more than 14-fold above the 362,000 chalked up in the same period last year.
Passenger load factor soared to 79%, the highest since the onset of the pandemic, up 34.1 percentage points.
Passenger and cargo capacities jumped to 60.7% and 77% for 1Q2023, up from 26.5% and 56.8% in 1Q2022, respectively.
3. Keeping its fleet young
During 1Q2023, SIA took delivery of two Airbus A350-900s, of which one joined its operating fleet.
In addition, three Boeing 737-8s also joined SIA’s fleet this quarter, with another to be added once it completes its cabin retrofit.
As of 30 June 2022, SIA’s operating fleet consisted of 127 passenger aircraft and seven freighters, with Scoot operating 55 passenger aircraft.
The group’s fleet is just six years and three months old and is one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleets in the airline industry, with the average fleet age at 15 years and six months.
4. Increasing its network points
SIA continued to increase the number of destinations it flies to in response to healthy demand.
In 1Q2023, it reinstated flights to cities such as Cebu, Medan, and Nanjing while Scoot launched new services to Jeju in South Korea.
As of 30 June, the group’s passenger network covered 98 destinations in 36 countries, getting closer to its pre-pandemic network of 137 destinations in 37 countries.
SIA plans to increase services in anticipation of the Northern Winter operating season from 30 October 2022 to 25 March 2023, and will add more flights to Los Angeles, Paris and Japan as well as restore its Indian network to pre-pandemic levels.
Group capacity is expected to reach 76% by 3Q2023.
5. Reinforcing its brand status
Apart from boosting its fleet and increasing its network points, SIA has also been busy with other initiatives to reinforce its premium brand status.
The group has increased the number of self-service options and is working closely with ecosystem partners to improve the airport experience for customers.
SIA also unveiled its revamped flagship SilverKris Lounge and KrisFlyer Gold Lounge at Changi Airport for S$50 million.
Get Smart: A firm recovery expected
With healthy sets of financial and operating numbers, investors can expect more of the same from SIA as the recovery gathers steam.
Another piece of good news was Changi Airport reporting that the number of passengers exceeded half of the pre-pandemic figure for the first time, and was ahead of the year-end target set.
The second half of 2022 is expected to see even more people travelling despite the presence of more Omicron variants.
Changi Airport will reopen its Terminal 4 on 13 September, with 16 airlines to be relocated there.
This reopening will coincide with another quarter of Terminal 2’s opening in October, allowing the airport to handle its pre-COVID capacity of 70 million passengers per year.
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Disclaimer: Royston Yang does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.