Singapore Airlines becomes latest carrier to shed staff over COVID-related financial woes

©Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines has announced that it is to pare back staffing levels by approximately 20%, shedding 4,300 jobs as it struggles to deal with the drop in demand for air travel as a consequence of the COVID-109 pandemic. Taking into account voluntary departure schemes, standard attrition and a freeze on recruitment, the actual number of staff who will lose their jobs is expected to be nearer the 2,400 mark.

However, the Far-Eastern carrier offered a note of optimism that passenger levels could well return to 50% of pre-pandemic levels by year end, even though it is currently operating at 8% capacity. One of the major reasons Singapore has been hit so hard by the pandemic is that it has no domestic schedule to shore up long-haul routes which are severely limited owing to the number of countries who have closed their borders.

The job losses at Singapore Airlines are the first COVID-related cuts, the carrier having remained in operation thanks to its raising of S$11 billion (US$8 billion) of equity. Singapore Airlines Chief Executive Officer Goh Choon Phong said: “When the battle against Covid-19 began early this year, none of us could have predicted its devastating impact on the global aviation industry. From the outset, our priorities were to ensure our survival and save as many jobs as possible. Given that the road to recovery will be long and fraught with uncertainty, we have to unfortunately implement involuntary staff reduction measures. Having to let go of our valuable and dedicated people is the hardest and most agonizing decision that I have had to make in my 30 years with SIA. This is not a reflection of the strengths and capabilities of those who will be affected, but the result of an unprecedented global crisis that has engulfed the airline industry.”

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