Singapore Airlines (SIA) has reported a weak set of results for 3QFY2021 ended Dec 31 as international air travel demand had remained "severely constrained" in the final quarter of 2020.

The national flag carrier swung into a net loss of $142 million from earnings of $315 million in 3QFY2020.

This was primarily driven by the weaker operating performance, partially offset by a swing from tax expense to tax credit, it says.

SIA’s revenue plunged 76.1% y-o-y to $1.07 billion as all three passenger airlines within the group recorded a sharp drop in passenger flown revenue due to low traffic.

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This, it says, was partially offset by improvements in cargo flown revenue, as the global airfreight capacity crunch continued to provide strong support for both load factors and yields.

Although SIA’s passenger carriage shrank 97.6% y-o-y, SIA points out that the figure grew 44.8% q-o-q.

This came on the back of a 90.8% increase in capacity for the third quarter, says the airline.

For the nine-month period, SIA sunk into a net loss of $3.61 billion compared to earnings of $520 million in 9MFY2020.

Revenue plunged 78.9% y-o-y to $2.7 billion.

Meanwhile, SIA’s balance sheet has improved as at Dec 31, 2020.

The airline notes that the growth of its cash and bank balances to $7.1 billion, outpaced that of its total debt balances to $12.2 billion, due to the drawdown of new debt facilities.

Consequently, its debt-equity ratio fell to 0.78 times from 1.27 times previously.

SEE: Singapore Airlines trials pre-departure Covid-19 tests to revive travel

Looking ahead, SIA says the resurgence of Covid-19 infections and the spread of more transmissible strains of the virus will continue to weigh on international air travel.

Nevertheless, the airline expects to see a measured expansion of the passenger network over the coming months in line with Singapore’s progressive re-opening of its borders.

“We will continue to monitor the status of travel restrictions and adjust our capacity accordingly to meet the traffic demand,” it says in a Feb 4 statement.

On Feb 4, SIA closed flat at $4.17 with 3.7 million shares changed hands.