Asian carriers are making staff and network cuts in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks. While the region's airlines say they are not feeling the pain as much as their Western counterparts, forward bookings have fallen sharply, particularly for services to the USA.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) was the first to announce cost-reduction measures, imposing a freeze on new hiring and saying redundancies are possible. Services to Karachi and Lahore in Pakistan have been suspended, while frequencies have been reduced on five more routes.

Subsidiary SIA Cargo is dropping freighter services to Macau, Melbourne and Perth in Australia, and to Penang in Malaysia, and cutting back other routes. It is launching new freighter services to Dallas and Munich, however.

Japan Airlines (JAL) is suspending services on three US routes and cutting frequencies on others, reducing transpacific flights by 24%. All Nippon Airways, which is far less exposed to the US market, is cutting frequencies to Guam.

Malaysia Airlines says it will suspend services to 12 destinations, sell non-core assets and cut an unspecified number of its 21,000 jobs. The airline was renationalised early this year.

Korean Air (KAL), already suffering before 11 September, says it is suspending operations to six destinations and reducing services on four other international routes.

KAL is still assessing what to do about excess capacity. It is also expected to announce more job cuts in the weeks ahead, on top of 500 announced in August.

Rival Asiana Airlines is cutting 360 jobs or 5% of its workforce and will suspend services on four domestic routes. It will also cut frequencies to Los Angeles, return a wet-leased freighter and carry out other cost-cutting measures.

Philippine Airlines has deferred plans to acquire additional Boeing 747-400s for transpacific services, while Thai Airways International is preparing to reduce flights on some regional routes.

Cathay Pacific Airways has introduced a hiring freeze for ground staff and cabin crew, while pilot recruitment is being "phased out". Cathay is also looking to defer or cancel capital projects and purchases. It has already suspended services to Karachi.

Dragonair has decided to return a wet-leased Boeing 747-200 freighter to Atlas Air after its second purchased 747-300F arrives in October.

China Southern Airlines has suspended flights between Beijing and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, while Air China has suspended services to Kuwait via Karachi. China Eastern Airlines has reduced frequencies between Shanghai and Los Angeles.

In Taiwan, EVA Airways is preparing job cuts and slashing frequencies to the USA and South-East Asia. Services to Penang will be dropped.

Source: Flight International