Singapore Airlines (SIA) will cut 96 per cent of its scheduled capacity until the end of April due to tightened border control measures around the world over the past week to stem the Covid-19 outbreak, the airline said.

The airline will also ground 138 SIA and Silkair aircraft, out of a total fleet of 147.

Singapore Airlines said this is “the greatest challenge that the SIA Group has faced in its existence”.

This follows Hong Kong’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific’s announcement to cut 96 per cent of flights in April and May as the ongoing coronavirus has led to a drop in travel demand.

The SIA Group said its low-cost subsidiary Scoot will also suspend “most of its network”, which will result in the grounding of 47 of its 49 aircraft.

Details of Scoot’s suspended flights can be found here.

“The SIA Group diversified its network and set up Scoot to spread its risks and cater to a wide range of passenger and market segments. However, without a domestic segment, the Group’s airlines become more vulnerable when international markets increasingly restrict the free movement of people or ban air travel altogether,” said the airline in a press release.

The SIA Group said it is unclear when it will resume services due to “uncertainty as to when the stringent border controls will be lifted”.

The Group also said it is now taking steps to build up its liquidity, and reduce capital expenditure and operating costs. Some of these measures include discussions with aircraft manufacturers to defer upcoming aircraft deliveries, salary cuts for SIA Group’s management and engaging in talks with unions on cost-cutting measures.

Singapore Airlines also said it has drawn on its credit lines in the last few days to meet immediate cash flow requirements and is in talks with financial institutions over future funding needs.

The airline said it is now offering travel waivers for affected passengers. Details can be found here.

It said it has also updated its frequent flyer policies, renewing the membership of select members who have membership validity periods ending in February and March 2020 for another year. /