SIA to cut 4,300 positions across the group

REELING from the impact of the pandemic, the Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group is shedding 4,300 jobs as it seeks to right-size its airlines for a post-Covid world.

In a filing to the Singapore Exchange on Thursday evening, the flag carrier said that about 2,400 staff in Singapore and abroad could be hit by the job cuts, after taking into account a recruitment freeze, natural attrition and voluntary-departure schemes, which account for 1,900 positions. SIA, SilkAir and Scoot employed over 21,000 employees at the end of the previous financial year.

The carrier said that talks have begun with unions in Singapore and that it is trying to finalise arrangements as soon as possible for those affected. It added that it is expected to operate a smaller fleet for a reduced network in the coming years, compared to before the pandemic hit.

SIA chief Goh Choon Phong said: "Given that the road to recovery will be long and fraught with uncertainty, we have to unfortunately implement involuntary staff-reduction measures."

He 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. We will conduct this process in a fair and respectful manner, and do our best to ensure that they receive all the necessary support during this very trying time."

SIA, which spilled red ink to the tune of S$1.12 billion in Q1 FY21, has said that it expects to operate at less than half its capacity by the end of March next year.

Over the past few months, it has cut salaries, introduced various no-pay leave schemes, offered voluntary early-retirement schemes to ground staff and pilots, as well as a voluntary release scheme for its cabin crew in a bid contain costs.

However, the recovery in travel has proved slower than expected. The International Air Transport Association estimates that international air travel may not return to pre-Covid levels until 2024.