MIAMI – The Singapore Airlines (SQ) Group announced the difficult decision to cut around 4,300 positions across its airlines. After taking into account a recruitment freeze, natural attrition, and the take up of voluntary departure schemes, the potential number of staff impacted will be reduced to about 2,400 in Singapore and in overseas stations.
According to the Group’s press release, this decision was taken due to the long road to recovery for the global airline industry from the debilitating impact of COVID-19 and the urgent need for the Group’s airlines to adapt to an uncertain future.
As previously indicated, the Group expects to operate under 50% of its capacity at the end of financial year 2020/21. Industry groups have also forecast that passenger traffic will not return to previous levels until around 2024.
Mitigating the Cuts
the Group needs to cut around 4,300 positions across SQ, SilkAir (MI) and Scoot (TR). This has been mitigated by a recruitment freeze that was implemented in March 2020, open vacancies that were not filled, an early retirement scheme for ground staff and pilots, and a voluntary release scheme for cabin crew.
Collectively, these measures have allowed the Group to eliminate some 1,900 positions.
As a result, the potential job cuts across the Group may be reduced to around 2,400 in Singapore and across SIA’s overseas stations.
Discussions have also begun with the Singapore-based unions. The Group will work closely with them to finalize the arrangements as soon as possible for those affected, and try to minimise the stress and anxiety that comes with this process.
Statement from Singapore Airlines
Goh Choon Phong, 57, Singapore Airlines Chief Executive Officer, 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.”
The CEO also said, “Having to let go of our valuable and dedicated people is the hardest and most agonising decision that I have had to make in my 30 years with SQ. 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.”
“The next few weeks will be some of the toughest in the history of the SQ Group as some of our friends and colleagues leave the company. We will conduct this process in a fair and respectful manner, and do our best to ensure that they receive all the necessary support during this very trying time.”
Singapore Airlines A350-900ULR. Photo: Staff