Singapore Airlines to shed 4,300 jobs

The city-state’s flag carrier says about 1,900 positions had already been eliminated in recent months due to a recruitment freeze

SINGAPORE • Singapore Airlines Ltd said yesterday it was cutting about 4,300 jobs — about 20% of the workforce — due to the devastating impact of the coronavirus, and warned any recovery would be “long and fraught with uncertainty”.

Singapore Airlines is the latest airline to announce massive layoffs as the global aviation industry faces its greatest-ever crisis due to travel restrictions to fight the spread of Covid-19.

The city-state’s flag carrier said about 1,900 positions had already been eliminated in recent months due to a recruitment freeze, natural attrition and voluntary departures, reducing further expected job cuts to around 2,400.

Positions are being cut across full-service Singapore Airlines, regional carrier SilkAir and budget airline Scoot in Singapore and overseas.

“The future remains extremely challenging,” said Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong.

“Given the expectation that the road to recovery will be long and fraught with uncertainty, it has come to the point where we have to make the painfully difficult decision to implement involuntary staff reduction measures.”

He said Singapore Airlines was more vulnerable than other major carriers around the world, as it did not have a domestic market and is wholly dependent on international routes.

The carrier, which reported a net loss of more than US$800 million (RM3.36 billion) in the first quarter, is only operating at 8% of pre-pandemic capacity.

The cuts come despite the airline group raising a total S$11 billion (RM33.56 billion) in fresh funds to help it weather the crisis — including S$8.8 billion from a rights issue backed by its majority shareholder, state investment fund Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that airlines operating in the Asia-Pacific region stand to lose a combined US$27.8 billion this year.

IATA forecast in July that global air traffic is unlikely to return to pre-coronavirus levels until at least 2024 — a year later than previously projected. — AFP