The Singapore Airlines (SIA) group has reported a 56.3% y-o-y lower group passenger capacity for the month of March, a marked improvement since April 2020’s figures.

Overall passenger carriage fell 90.9% y-o-y, resulting in a passenger load factor (PLF) of 12.8%, 44.6 percentage points lower y-o-y.

The results came as border controls and travel restrictions are still in place in many parts of the world owing to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

While many key markets have began the mass roll-out of Covid-19 vaccinations, recovery in international travel demand continue to remain low in March.

The group’s flagship airline, Singapore Airlines, saw 50.8% lower passenger capacity y-o-y, while passenger carriage fell 88.9% y-o-y. The decline resulted in a 43.1% percentage-point decline in the airline’s PLF to 12.6%.

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For the month of March, the airline added six new destinations, largely due to the transfer of narrow-body destinations from SilkAir to Singapore Airlines. The destinations also included the re-introduction of flights to Haneda in Tokyo and the opening of sales to Yangon, Myanmar.

SilkAir’s passenger carriage fell 92.9% y-o-y against a 92.3% cut in capacity. The airline registered a PLF of 48.2%, representing a 4.2 percentage point decline. SilkAir re-introduced operations to Cebu in March. The airline, as at end-March, operated flights to only five destinations – Cebu, Kathmandu, Kuala Lumpur, Medan and Singapore – after the progressive transfer to Singapore Airlines.

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Scoot’s passenger carriage fell 95.9% y-o-y against a 75.8% y-o-y contraction in capacity. The low-cost airline’s PLF saw a 57.7 percentage-point decline to 11.8%.

Scoot served a total of 18 destinations including Perth and Singapore as at end-March.

SIA Cargo posted a monthly cargo load factor (CLF) of 92.3%, 24.1 percentage points higher y-o-y. This comes amid the increase in cargo traffic of 0.8% on the back of a capacity contraction of 25.5%.

All route regions saw y-o-y increases in CLF in March.

SIA says it remains “hopeful” for a measured recovery in demand for international air travel. Group capacity reached 23% of pre-Covid-19 levels as at end-March, 2% lower than the group’s expected 25%.

“The group’s passenger capacity is expected to be around 27% of pre-Covid levels by June 2021, based on modest growth of the passenger network in the coming months,” says the airline in its network update on April 15.

Singapore Airlines will re-instate services to Denpasar from May. Scoot will re-introduce services to Macau in April, and Cebu, Clark, Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu in May.

“The progressive transfer of narrow-body routes from SilkAir to Singapore Airlines is on track,” it adds.

Shares in SIA closed 16 cents lower or 2.9% down at $5.34 on April 15.