Despite the gradual return of the demand for air travel, the Singapore Airlines Group (SIA) reported that its group passenger capacity remained down with an 81.3% contraction y-o-y for the month of December 2020.

Month-on-month, group passenger capacity grew 46% compared to that of November’s numbers.

Overall passenger carriage fell 97.6% y-o-y, resulting in a decline of 73.9 percentage points y-o-y to a group passenger load factor (PLF) of 13.7%.

The group’s flagship carrier Singapore Airlines’ capacity declined 78.0% y-o-y with a network connecting Singapore to 39 metro cities – up from 36 cities in November.

See: SIA’s November 2020 operating results

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Singapore Airlines’ passenger carriage fell 96.5% y-o-y to a PLF of 14.0%.

SilkAir’s passenger carriage decreased by 97.9% y-o-y against a cut in capacity of 98.2% y-o-y, resulting in a PLF of 15.8%, down 68.3 percentage points y-o-y.

Scoot’s passenger carriage fell 98.9% y-o-y against a contraction in capacity of 88.6% y-o-y, which led to a PLF of 9.3%. During the month, Scoot served 18 destinations, excluding Singapore, with the addition of services to Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Wuhan and Zhengzhou.

Flights to Kuala Lumpur were suspended while flights to West Asia and Europe remained suspended.

Cargo load factor (CLF) improved 29.6 percentage points to 88.7% in December 2020, outpacing the 50.4% contraction in capacity.

This is the seventh straight month that the group recorded a CLF of above 80%.

In a trading update, SIA says passenger numbers remained “severely constrained” by border controls and the travel restrictions that are still implemented by most countries.

On the recovery of air travel, the group says SIA Cargo has been preparing for the transportation and distribution of vaccines globally with relevant stakeholders in Singapore and overseas.

SIA Cargo, in December, flew in the first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines to Singapore aboard a Boeing 747-400 freighter.

See: First batch of Covid-19 vaccine arrives in Singapore

The group added that it expects to see its total passenger capacity to grow around 25% of pre-Covid-19 levels as of end-March 2021, and that it will serve about 45% of the points that they flew to before the crisis.

As at 12.14pm, shares in SIA are trading 4 cents lower or 0.9% down at $4.29.