Singapore Airlines cuts capacity by 10%, freezes hiring as virus takes toll

Singapore Airlines temporarily suspended more than 3,000 flights from February to end-May, accounting for 9.9 percent of the group’s scheduled capacity. (AFP)
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Updated 25 February 2020

Singapore Airlines cuts capacity by 10%, freezes hiring as virus takes toll

  • The carrier has temporarily suspended more than 3,000 flights from February to end-May
  • Travel demand has been hit due to the virus and also as governments imposed curbs on movement to contain the epidemic

SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines has cut nearly 10 percent of its capacity, frozen recruitment for ground positions and deferred spending as it deals with lower demand due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.
The carrier has temporarily suspended more than 3,000 flights from February to end-May, accounting for 9.9 percent of the group’s scheduled capacity, said the memo sent to staff.
“We will continue to be nimble and flexible in adjusting our capacity to match the changing demand patterns in the market,” Chief Executive Goh Choon Phong said in the memo, first reported by the Straits Times newspaper.
“We have also proactively reached out to our suppliers and partners to discuss additional mitigating measures during this difficult time,” he said.
The coronavirus, which originated in China last year, can be transmitted from person to person and has killed more than 2,500 people and infected over 80,000 people, mostly on the mainland.
Travel demand has been hit due to the virus and also as governments imposed curbs on movement to contain the epidemic, forcing airlines to cancel thousands of flights.
Singapore Airlines, earlier this month, said it would cut capacity across its network in the three months to May including destinations like Frankfurt, Jakarta, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, Paris, Seoul, Sydney and Tokyo.
It did not provide details on what percentage of capacity would be cut at the time.
On Tuesday, Singapore Airlines said its CEO had sent a memo to staff, without detailing the contents.
It said it was closely monitoring the situation and would take any additional measures needed, but would not do anything to harm its long-term competitiveness.
Hong Kong-based rival Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. has cut 40 percent of capacity across its network due to the fall in demand associated with the epidemic and asked all its employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave.


$8bn blow to Erdogan as investors flee Turkey

Updated 09 July 2020

$8bn blow to Erdogan as investors flee Turkey

  • Overseas holdings in Istanbul stock exchange are at lowest in 16 years

ANKARA: Foreign capital is flooding out of Turkey in a massive vote of no confidence in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s economic competence.
Overseas investors have withdrawn nearly $8 billion from Turkish stocks since January, according to Central Bank statistics, reducing foreign investment in the Istanbul stock exchange from $32.3 billion to $24.4 billion.
As recently as 2013, the figure was $82 billion, and foreign investors now own less than 50 percent of stocks for the first time in 16 years.
“Foreign investment has left Turkey for several reasons, both internal and external,” Win Thin, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, told Arab News.
“Externally, investors fled riskier assets like emerging markets during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Some of those flows are returning, but investors are being much more discerning and Turkey does not seem so attractive.”
In terms of internal factors, Thin said that Turkish policymakers had made it hard for foreign investors to transact in Turkey. “This includes real money clients, not just speculative.
“By implementing ad hoc measures to try and limit speculative activity, Turkey has made it hard for real money as well. Besides these problems, Turkey’s fundamentals remain poor compared to much of the emerging markets.”
Erdogan allies claim international players are manipulating the Istanbul stock exchange through automated trading, and have demanded action to make it difficult for them to trade in Turkish assets.
Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Merrill Lynch, Barclays and Credit Suisse were banned this month from short-selling stocks for up to three months, and this year local lenders were briefly banned by the banking regulator from trading in Turkish lira with Citigroup, BNP Paribas and UBS
JPMorgan was investigated by Turkish authorities last year after the bank published a report that advised its clients to short sell the Turkish lira.
MSCI, the provider of research-based indexes and analytics, warned last month that it may relegate Turkey from emerging market status to frontier-market status because of bans on short selling and stock lending.
With the market becoming less transparent, overseas fund managers, especially with short-term portfolios, are unenthusiastic about the Turkish market and are becoming more concerned about any forthcoming introduction of other liquidity restrictions.
The exodus of foreign capital is likely to undermine Turkey’s drive for economic growth, especially during the coronavirus pandemic when employment and investment levels have gone down, with the Turkish lira facing serious volatility.