Singapore Airlines hit by Q4 operating loss, sees no business recovery

SINGAPORE Thu May 8, 2014 6:54am EDT

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SINGAPORE May 8 (Reuters) - Operating losses at Singapore Airlines Ltd widened in its fourth-quarter as Asia's biggest airline cited persistently weak pricing power and flagged a challenging outlook.

"Passenger bookings in the current quarter are expected to match the planned increase in capacity," it said in a statement on Thursday. "However, yields are expected to remain under pressure due to promotional activities undertaken to support loads, and other airlines offering aggressive fares while increasing capacity."

Singapore Airlines, expanding exposure to low-cost travel in the face of stiff competition from Middle Eastern full-service airlines, said operating loss widened to S$60.3 million ($48.3 million) in the quarter ended March from S$44.2 million a year earlier.

That compared with an average forecast of an operating profit of S$42 million in a Reuters poll of five analysts. Two other analysts had estimated a quarterly loss. Quarterly net profit fell to S$27 million from S$68.3 million a year ago.

The airline, 56-percent owned by state investor Temasek Holdings, said the operating environment was challenging and the cargo sector was suffering from overcapacity.

Facing competition from Gulf operators such as Emirates Airline as well as budget carriers including AirAsia Bhd , Singapore Airlines has been forced to sacrifice yields to defend its market share. ($1 = 1.2485 Singapore Dollars) (Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and William Hardy)

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