(Adds company comments, details on capacity outlook)
By Jamie Freed
May 18 (Reuters) - Singapore Airlines Ltd (SIA) on Wednesday posted a narrower annual loss of S$962 million ($694.08 million), at a time when demand remained low due to the pandemic, but said the outlook was improving as travel restrictions were lifted.
SIA's loss in the 12 months ended on March 31, its third consecutive year in the red, was an improvement from the S$4.3 billion loss a year earlier that included impairment charges on 45 older aircraft.
The latest figure was in line with the average forecast of a S$968.5 million net loss from 11 analysts polled by Refinitiv.
Annual revenue doubled to S$7.6 billion.
SIA said passenger capacity would average around 61% of pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter and 67% in the second quarter as the outlook improved.
"Key markets around the world have further eased travel restrictions, supporting a strong recovery in demand in air travel across all cabin classes," SIA said in a statement.
It added that forward sales, when measured as a percentage of available seats, were approaching pre-pandemic levels for the three months up to August.
Singapore on April 1 took a major step forward in reopening by allowing fully-vaccinated travellers to enter the country without the need to quarantine or take an on-arrival test for COVID-19, as well as lifting all daily arrival quotas. From April 26, it removed the need for pre-departure tests. Passenger traffic at Singapore's Changi Airport has doubled in May compared with March to stand at around 40% of pre-COVID levels, the country's transport minister said on Tuesday.
SIA, like Hong Kong-based rival Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd , lacks a domestic market. But Singapore has been reopening at a much faster pace than Hong Kong, allowing SIA to restore pre-pandemic capacity levels more quickly. ($1 = 1.3860 Singapore dollars) (Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney; Editing by Andrew Heavens)