Singapore Airlines staff taking no-pay leave as some offered retirement

About 6,000 of 27,000 staff taking leave as airline continues to suffer from COVID-19 fallout

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Singapore Airlines and hundreds of other carriers had to ground thousands of planes because of COVID-19. (PHOTO: Steve Strike/Outback Photographics)

Use this oneAbout 6,000 of the 27,000 staff working for Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group have offered to take no-pay leave to help the airline deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on international air travel. The airline also said it would offer early retirement to some of the staff as a way to cut employees. The SIA Group is made up of Singapore Airlines, regional carrier SilkAir and budget carrier Scoot. The airline earlier cut pay for all staff by at least 10 percent. In July SIA reported a S$1.12 billion net loss in the quarter ended June 30, its largest quarterly loss on record.

A very quiet Changi Airport in Singapore on 12 August. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

Singapore Airlines is more affected than other carriers because it is a pure international carrier and international air travel has been all but shut down because of quarantines and other travel restrictions imposed by countries around the world. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said international travel is unlikely to return to pre-COVID-19 levels before 2024 and the entire aviation industry will lose hundreds of billions of dollars.

Changi Airport in normal times would handle hundreds of flights per day. On 12 August there were only 10 departures scheduled. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

Singapore Airlines’ early release and retirement plan will come with payouts and benefits, an SIA spokesperson said in local media reports. It is not applicable to trainee crew members. Cabin crew members from both Singapore Airlines and SilkAir have until Aug 31 to apply for the scheme. “Applications are subject to approval and cabin crew who apply for the VRS will be informed on the outcome of their application by mid-September,” the spokesperson said. The terms and benefits under the scheme were determined by SIA and the Singapore Airlines Staff Union, according to a notice sent out by the airline to cabin crew members.

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