The Hong Kong protests have left no part of the travel industry unscathed, and Singapore Airlines' latest earnings show it's not just local airlines that are feeling the pain.
Singapore Airlines Ltd. said travel demand to Hong Kong remains weak as months of protests and violent unrest have discouraged people from visiting the city.
The airline canceled some flights when there weren’t enough passengers or shifted the load to other services, Chief Executive Officer Goh Choon Phong said at an earnings briefing in Singapore on Wednesday.
“The impact is probably stronger on the leisure side, because if you are going to Hong Kong for leisure you may actually look at alternatives,” Goh said. While it’s too early to say that travel demand to Hong Kong is recovering, “it has somewhat stabilized,” he said.
Protests continue to rock parts of Hong Kong, particularly on weekends, and have occasionally spread to the airport, affecting operations there. Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. has lowered its earnings outlook, while Hong Kong Airlines Ltd. is cutting operations, including its Los Angeles route. Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. said Wednesday it is suspending its Melbourne-Hong Kong route.
Singapore Air said last month that its flights to East Asia in September showed a “marginal improvement” in load factor despite weakness in Hong Kong. The carrier reported second-quarter results late Tuesday that showed a 68% increase in net profit, helped by associate companies and joint ventures.
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Photo credit: Singapore Airlines planes taxi at Changi Airport Terminal 3 in Singapore. Nicky Loh / Reuters