With passenger traffic down 98 per cent, Singapore Airlines reported a net loss of S$142 million (US$106 million) in three months ending December 2020.

Although an improvement from the record $2.3 billion (US$1.7 billion) loss in the second quarter of 2020, the October-December results are a stark contrast to the S$315 million (US$236 million) net profit during the same period a year before.

SIA’s passenger flights were hit the hardest as a result of travel restrictions, with only one in seven seats filled, down 71.3 per cent. Cargo volume also slid by 36 per cent year-on-year. Overall, it reported revenues of S$1.06 billion, down 76.1 per cent year-on-year. 

The Star Alliance carrier attributed the quarter-on-quarter improvement to stronger cargo performance and a gradual resumption of services across its network. It flew to 38 destinations by the end of December 2020, seven more than the previous quarter.

“In response to the continued strong demand for pharmaceutical and e-commerce shipments, and an uptick in general cargo demand, SIA added capacity by stepping up the frequency of passenger aircraft operating cargo-only flights and through the resumption of more passenger services,” said the airline in a filing to investors. “The utilisation of the freighter fleet was also maximised to deliver more cargo capacity.”

SIA projects that by the end of April 2021, passenger capacity will reach 25 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. The airline plans to serve nearly half of its destinations from before the crisis.