Singapore Airlines Group Cuts 4,300 Positions

Credit: Singapore Airlines

SINGAPORE—Positioning itself for a protracted recovery, the Singapore Airlines (SIA) group has announced it will cut 4,300 positions across the group’s three airlines—Scoot, SilkAir, and Singapore Airlines—including 2,400 compulsory layoffs in Singapore and overseas stations. 

They are the largest employment reductions the flag-carrier has implemented since its inception. 

In March, 1,900 positions were made redundant via a hiring freeze. The company did not fill open vacancies and used an early retirement scheme for pilots and ground staff as well as a voluntary release scheme for cabin crew.   

The new job cuts were announced by SIA CEO Goh Choon Phong in a virtual townhall. SIA is in discussions with various unions to “finalize arrangements for the affected as soon as possible,” the company said. 

SIA saw its passenger demand plummet 99.5% over its fiscal first quarter (Q1) and now only flies 8% of its 2019 capacity. Since the pandemic struck, SIA has implemented several salary cuts across the airline and was also supported by a job support scheme from the government that subsidized 75% of salaries capped at the first S$4,600 ($3,360). The scheme expired in August and was replaced by a revised package that subsidizes half of the wages for another seven months until March 2021. 

The SIA group highlighted in its Q1 results that it is planning to operate under 50% of capacity for the rest of the fiscal year until Mar 2021 and is aligning itself to industry estimates of a full recovery at 2024. 

“Relative to most other major airlines in the world, the SIA Group is in an even more vulnerable position. This is because we do not have a domestic market which, as demonstrated in many countries, is the first to see a recovery in air traffic,” Goh said. 

“Having to let go of our valuable and dedicated people is the hardest and most agonizing decision that I have had to make in my 30 years with SIA,” Goh added. “This is not a reflection of the strengths and capabilities of those who will be affected, but the result of an unprecedented global crisis that has engulfed the airline industry.”

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.