SIA says passenger numbers dived in March

SINGAPORE, April 16, 2009 (AFP) – Singapore Airlines (SIA) said on Thursday that passenger numbers plummeted in March as the global downturn continues to weigh on travel demand.

The carrier, majority owned by Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings, reported a 42.8 percent fall in net profit in the third quarter to December, to 337 million Singapore dollars (225 million US).

The airline carried 1.28 million people last month, down 23 percent year on year, the company said in a statement.

It added that passenger load factor (PLF), how much seating capacity is used at a given period, fell 11.4 percentage points to 69.4 percent.

“The current global economic slowdown has weakened travel demand,” SIA said in the statement. “Consequently, all route regions registered declines in PLFs,” it said.

SIA reduced capacity by 9.0 percent last month due to lower demand, with the airline using smaller planes and terminating flights to Los Angeles via Taipei and Osaka via Bangkok as well as the service to Amritsar in India.

It said cargo carried by the airline in March fell 18 percent year on year and freight load factor dropped 4.3 percentage points to 58.5