Loss at Singapore Air is more bad news for Temasek

The New York Times

Temasek Holdings, which in September posted a record 67 percent drop in net profit for the year ended March 31, is still getting bad news from its investments.

Singapore Airlines, which is majority owned by the sovereign wealth fund, reported a worse-than-expected quarterly loss as the global economic slowdown affected profit margins, but said the outlook had improved.

The airline, which warned in July that it might post a full-year loss if tough conditions persisted, had a net loss of 159 million Singaporean dollars, or $114.6 million, for the three months through September, compared with a net profit of 324 million Singaporean dollars a year earlier.

Five analysts polled by Reuters had expected an average net loss of 38 million Singaporean dollars. The loss was narrower than the 307 million Singaporean dollars recorded in the previous three-month period.

“Advance bookings indicate that demand for air travel has stopped declining and is gradually recovering,” Singapore Airlines said in a statement.

The carrier has seen falling passenger and cargo demand this year as the global economic downturn has reduced business and leisure travel, leading the airline to reduce capacity by 11 percent in the 12 months from April. The airline also cut staff salaries and working hours.

Analysts said the growing presence of budget airlines in the region was making life tougher for premium carriers like Singapore Airlines and Japan Airlines. Budget carriers like AirAsia of Malaysia and JetStar of Australia are on an aggressive expansion drive despite the economic downturn.

JAL is undergoing a restructuring and negotiating for further government support after accumulating billions of dollars in losses, while Singapore Airlines has been forced to delay deliveries of eight airplanes from Airbus by 6 to 12 months

The report comes amid tough times for Temasek, which owns 55 percent of the airline. The wealth fund reported a record 67 percent drop in net profit for the year ended March 31, as a collapse in credit markets drove down the value of its stakes including holdings in Bank of America and Barclays.

The fund is trying to get its house in order after a tumultuous year, suffering not only from its bad bets on Western banks, but also a failed experiment to get a prominent outsider as its chief executive.


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