Singapore—Feeling the pinch of the Covid-19 outbreak, Singapore Airlines (SIA) has frozen its recruitment and is even looking at asking its current personnel to go on voluntary unpaid leave.
SIA told The Straits Times, “In response to Covid-19, a general recruitment freeze has been implemented for all ground positions, and non-essential duty travel has been suspended.
We are closely monitoring the evolving situation and will be decisive in implementing any additional measures that may be needed.”
It added, however, that the national carrier would not take measures that would compromise “the SIA Group’s long-term competitiveness.”
This comes after three rounds of flight cuts. At the moment SIA is facing an excess of over 500 cabin crew members and some 50 pilots, straitstimes.com reports.
The excess in staff results in fewer flying hours for all flight personnel.
The report also says that Goh Choon Phong, the chief executive of SIA, wrote a note to the staff on February 24 (Monday) saying that the spread of Covid-19 has had a substantive effect on air travel, particularly in Asia since the middle of last month.
He added that there has been a sizable fall in demand due to the virus outbreak, and that passenger traffic and load factors quickly went down for all the markets of the SIA Group.
Over 3,000 flights in all have been temporally suspended for SIA, SilkAir, and budget carrier Scoot, which composes the SIA Group from February to the end of May because the demand has fallen so sharply. This translates to a drop of nearly 10 percent of the scheduled capacity of the SIA Group.
Mr Goh added, “We will continue to be nimble and flexible in adjusting our capacity to match the changing demand patterns in the market.”
He also said that other cost-cutting initiatives have been launched.
“A general recruitment freeze has also been implemented for all ground positions, and non-essential duty travel has been suspended.
Selected capital expenditure has been deferred, and we have tightened discretionary operating expenditure. We have also proactively reached out to our suppliers and partners to discuss additional mitigating measures during this difficult time.”
To increase revenue, he said that the company is working together with tourism agencies and travel partners all over the globe to “aggressively drive sales, and jointly promote air travel to and through Singapore,” assuring SIA employees that the company is meeting the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 outbreak from a position of strength, and thanked them for maintaining the company’s high standards.
He also said that SIA will do what it takes to protect its staff.
“This includes stepped-up cleaning regimes at our premises, temperature screening, the provision of thermometers, hand sanitisers and personal protective equipment where necessary, and the deferral of large-scale company events.”
The memo he sent to the staff ended on an optimistic note: “Yes, there are strong headwinds. But the Group has successfully navigated past challenges such as 9/11, Sars and the 2008 global financial crisis… I am confident that together, we can overcome (the difficult times) and emerge as an even stronger SIA.” —/TISG