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The Coming Worldwide Downturn in Travel?

Singapore Airline Profit Downturn: Another Worrying Sign that Worldwide Travel May be on a Downhill Slope?

(2/6/2012) The Associated Press report that Singapore Airlines LTD (SIA) saw profits plunge 53% in the last quarter of 2011, a downturn attributed to rising fuel costs and slowing passenger demand worldwide.

SIA booked a profit of SG$ 135 million (US$108 million) as compared to SG$ 288 for the same quarter one year earlier.

"Forward bookings continue to show signs of weakness in the final quarter of the financial year, due to uncertainty in the global economy and the protracted Eurozone debt crisis," a company spokesman said.

Revenues for the quarter increased one percent to SG$3.9 million, a very modest growth in turnover that was greatly outpaced by a 12% increase in expenditures to SG$3.7 billion. Adding to the growing expense totals were fuel costs that grew 33% over last year and accounted for 40% of all expenditures.

According to information provided by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), airline profits worlwide are predicted to fall to US$3.5 billion this year, down dramatically from the US$6.9 billion booked in 2011.

Unfortunately, Singapore Airline's performance may portend a dismal outlook for international travel generally. The Singapore carrier is generally credited as one of the world’s best-managed carriers with an unparalleled worldwide network of routes. Because of this, SIA’s performance can arguably taken an indicative of the overall health of the global airline industry as a whole.

The Singapore Airline report follows an announcement by AirAsia to end its services to Europe and India citing declining demand, rising fuel costs, and inimical regulatory and tax regimes. Meanwhile, Garuda Indonesia announced that due to poor passenger demand they are reducing flight frequencies to Amsterdam.

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