Singapore Airlines cuts more than 200 flights

SINGAPORE, January 16, 2009 (AFP) – Singapore Airlines (SIA) is cutting more than 200 flights to Australia, China, Europe and India in response to falling passenger numbers, the company and travel agents said on Friday. Alicia Seah, a senior vice president at CTC Holidays travel agency, said many Singaporeans were opting for closer and cheaper holiday destinations such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

“What we see is that passengers are slowing down after Chinese New Year,” Seah said. “They are tightening their belts.”

Faced with the global economic slowdown, the carrier informed travel agents this week that 214 flights in all would be cut between now and March. It said Thursday that December passenger numbers were down 7.5 percent year-on-year.

“We don’t want to be flying half-empty planes around the world any longer than we have to, because it increases our cost burden at a time when we can least afford that,” company spokesman Stephen Forshaw told AFP.

“We want to make sure we match changes in capacity with the changes in demand that are occurring as a result of the economic slowdown,” he said.

Agents said flights would be cut between now and March to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Mumbai,