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Singapore Airlines cuts more than 200 flights

Singapore Airlines is cutting more than 200 flights to Australia, China, Europe and India in response to falling passenger numbers, the company and travel agents said.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2009 10:39 IST

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.

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 on 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, New Delhi, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, London and Zurich.

SIA said on Thursday it carried 1.61 million passengers last month, compared with 1.74 million in December 2007.

It also filled almost 80 percent of seats, down 4.4 percentage points year-on-year.

The city-state's flag carrier said in November that net profit for the fiscal second quarter ending September fell 36.2 per cent from the previous year, as the airline felt the pinch from the economic downturn.

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."