PHOTO: Singapore Airlines.

LONDON – More than 6,000 staff at the Singapore Airlines Group (SQ) have taken no-pay leave.

This is so then the Group can cope with the lack of demand in the industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around 1,700 employees have taken up volunteer positions and jobs in companies external from SQ.

Photo: Luca Flores

Comments from Singapore Airlines Group

A spokesperson for the group commented on this action around to offer such placements.

“These include ambassador roles and opportunities at public transport stations, social service offices, and hospitals, for example.”

“Many of our crew have also volunteered with various roles within the company.”

The pay varies for those taking up such placements.

SQ has committed to supplement the salaries of those earning less than their basic pay, which is up to $1,500 per person.

Photo: Luca Flores

A First for Poor Financials

Such moves by the airline reflects on SQ reporting its first-ever loss in the 48 years it has been active.

The losses of S$212m for the 12 months ending on March 31 this year were a complete reversal.

This is compared to the S$683m profit it had made in the same period last year.

For the first quarter of this year, losses were recorded at S$732m compared to S$203m in the first quarter of 2019.

In April, load factors were recorded at 9.3% compared to the more profitable 83.2% in the same period last year.

Picture from Singapore Airlines.

Subsidiary Results

Singapore Airlines’ subsidiary, Silk Air (MI), also witnessed the same drop, recording 34.1% for April 2020 compared to 78.1% in April 2019.

Low-cost firm Scoot (TR), only filled 5.9% of its capacity, which is significantly down from 2018-19’s at 86.8%.

Additionally, around S$710m was lost by the carrier due to fuel hedging contracts in the last fiscal year.

This ultimately increased the chances of a loss and thus required a liquidity injection, which it received in June.

Positive Steps to Retention

The SQ Group is evidently trying to ensure that no jobs will be lost as a result of this pandemic.

Evidence to substantiate this view is through 3,200 pilots and 11,000 cabin Crew remaining current on their licenses.

This is through the use of e-learning resources and simulator training where appropriate.

Ground training is continuing within the group, but further simulator training has stopped for now.

Doing all it can

Such steps in retention is key to the Group’s strategy as it aims to increase operations to eight percent of pre-COVID levels.

One of its subsidiaries, Jetstar Asia (3K), will operate to five more destinations from today, one of which includes Jakarta.

It remains clear that Singapore Airlines Group is definitely trying to achieve all it can during this period of instability.

Time will tell whether jobs will be cut or not, but based on current liquidity injections, this may not be the case for a while.

Featured Image: Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner. Photo Credit: Singapore Airlines.