Pratt & Whitney Singapore cutting employee numbers

Company says about 20 percent of 2,000 workers will be out of a job


In what the company called a “workforce adjustment exercise”, engine maker Pratt & Whitney announced Monday (3 August) that its Singapore operations will be cutting about 20 percent of its 2,000-strong employees as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the global aviation industry. “Due to challenging economic situation as a result of the pandemic, Pratt & Whitney has had to adjust its workforce. This has been a difficult but necessary decision to continue the business and support the aviation industry in Singapore,” the company in announcing the job cuts.

(PHOTO: Pratt & Whitney)

Pratt & Whitney said it has already implemented cost-savings measures like temporary salary reductions, shorter work weeks, cancellation of merit increases, hiring freezes and discretionary spending cuts, but those were not enough to overcome the downturn in the industry that has all but shut down international aviation and severely curtailed domestic flying as well.

Pratt & Whitney said the job cuts will affect international staff more than Singaporean staff and said Singaporean employees will make up 77 percent of the employee base following the latest round of job cuts. The company declined to specify the exact number of job cuts.

The company also said it has been working with the Singapore Industrial and Services Employees’ Union (SISEU) and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) since early April on cost-saving measures to save jobs.

“Although current forecasts indicate it will take until 2023 at the earliest for commercial aviation traffic to recover to pre COVID-19 levels, the company hopes this will happen sooner so that employees who are keen can return,” the company said in its announcement. “With the longer-than-expected recovery timeline for commercial aviation, we will remain focused on repositioning our business to be resilient and relevant to our customers’ needs and what the future of our industry will look like. This is our responsibility as a business to our employees and other stakeholders.”

Pratt & Whitney has been operating in Singapore for over 37 years.

Eagle Services is a joint venture between Pratt & Whitney and SIA Engineering. (PHOTO: P&W)

Pratt & Whitney’s joint venture Eagle Services Asia, which it operates with SIA Engineering, is also laying off employees, although the company pushed back against earlier reports it had already laid off 140 workers with little or no notice. The company said it was negotiating with labour unions over the layoffs. More than 140 staff, including technicians and engineers, were reportedly placed on its retrenchment list, with most of them Singaporeans. Some were told to leave their workplace immediately, while others were said to be denied entry, according to local press reports. “During this pandemic, it is a difficult time for all businesses. The aviation industry, among others, has been impacted particularly hard,” Eagle Services Asia said in the reports. “We have had to make adjustments to the business. Staff departures are never easy.”

Raytheon Technologies, the parent of Pratt & Whitney, posted second-quarter financial results that included a loss at Pratt & Whitney. The Waltham, Massachusetts,-based defence and aerospace giant sees improvements unfolding over three years and has cut thousands of jobs while looking at reductions in manufacturing operations. The painful slump caused by the coronavirus, which grounded planes as passengers and businesses balked at travel, cut profit at its two aerospace businesses, Pratt & Whitney and aerospace systems manufacturer Collins Aerospace. Raytheon posted a US$3.8 billion loss.

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Matthew Driskill is the Editor of Asian Aviation and is based in Cambodia. He has been an Asia-based journalist and content producer since 1990 for outlets including Reuters and the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and is a former president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong. He frequently appears on international broadcast outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC and has taught journalism at Hong Kong University and the American University of Paris. Driskill has received awards from the Associated Press for Investigative Reporting and Business Writing and in 1989 was named the John J. McCloy Fellow by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York where he earned his Master's Degree.


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