Over 6,000 SIA staff on leave

14 Offbeat Places near Mumbai for a Quiet Getaway
August 13, 2020
Exploring Hyderabad: Places to visit and eat at
August 13, 2020

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 16, 2020, Singapore Airlines flight crew arrive at Sydney's international airport. - Singapore Airlines (SIA) reported a first-quarter net loss of more than $800 million USD on July 29, the latest carrier to take a massive hit as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Peter PARKS / AFP)

MORE than 6,000 of the 27,000 staff from the Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group have taken no-pay leave of varying lengths to help the company cope with the collapse in air travel due to Covid-19.

In addition, over 1,700 employees, including ground staff, pilots and cabin crew, have signed up for volunteer positions and jobs in external organisations.

The SIA Group – which comprises SIA, regional arm SilkAir and budget carrier Scoot – disclosed the figures to The Straits Times last Friday.Its spokesperson said it had been arranging temporary and secondary job placements for its staff.

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

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

Staff can apply for the external roles through SIA’s employee support portal.

They can also tap online financial, mental and physical wellness programmes if needed.

The no-pay leave scheme and letting staff seek secondary employment are part of several cost-cutting measures the airline has introduced as the pandemic rages on.

The Straits Times understands that the SIA Group’s pilots and cabin crew who are not flying still get their basic pay, but do not get flight allowances which substantially increase their pay.

For staff who are now attached to other organisations, it is understood that their pay varies.

SIA helps to supplement the salaries of those earning less than their basic pay, which can be around S$1,500 (RM4,570) for a cabin crew member.

The SIA Group, unlike several other airlines, has thus far managed to stave off job cuts with the help of funding from Temasek and the Government’s Jobs Support Scheme.

But it is currently operating at just 7% of its scheduled capacity compared to before the pandemic.

Last month, it reported a S$1.12bil (RM3.4bil) net loss in the quarter ended June 30, its largest quarterly loss on record.

Air travel demand is expected to remain low for the foreseeable future, with the International Air Transport Association saying it would be until 2024 before demand returns to last year’s levels.

Experts have said the various measures, which include raising S$11bil (RM33.5bil) so far this financial year, will help the SIA Group, but not likely to the extent that it can avoid eventual job cuts.

This is so given that airlines are overstaffed for current demand levels, and a quick recovery is nowhere in sight.