Malindo crew members ‘signing off’

Many of the airline’s former employees share their memories and express their sadness after ending their service with the airline

by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by ARIF KARTONO

THIS year has indeed been a very difficult one for the aviation industry as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to pose adverse effects, causing airlines to undertake massive cost-cutting measures, including retrenchment.

Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd has not been spared from such a predicament as many of its crew members have lost their jobs due to the company’s shrinking operations.

Yesterday, the airline became the talk of netizens when they witnessed Malindo crew members bidding farewell to each other on Twitter with the keyword “signing off” as a symbol that their time with the airline has officially come to an end.

Many of the airline’s former employees, consisting of pilots, engineers and cabin crew had also shared their memories and expressed their sadness after ending their service with the airline.

Anthony Frank wrote under the Twitter handle @anthonyfrank91: “Today marks my last day with Malindo. I would like to thank you for all the guidance, teachings and support that you have given throughout this wonderful journey.

“Hope we can work together in the future. Thank you once again. Signing off,” he wrote.

Another user @mizznwhen thanked the airline for all the beautiful moments and memories it had offered.

“It is hard to accept the fact that most of us have been retrenched. May Allah ease everything for all airline crew.

“ONCE A CREW, ALWAYS A CREW” Door disarmed & cross checked. I’m cc Bella, M08993 signing off. Bye ODteam,” she tweeted.

Meanwhile, Hasvin Kaur Gill on her Twitter account @mrs_ssd wrote: “30th October 2020. Thank you Malindo Air for the best memories. Being the only Punjabi female in aircraft engineering in Malaysia, so close to getting my licence.

“It means a lot. The past five years and four months were wonderful.

“I also had the best shift mates anyone can ask for. I will miss all the fun and the games. Everything. M02954 signing off. Thank you Malindo,” she shared.

As the farewell messages of crew members continued to pour through the microblogging site, a few lawmakers had also raised some serious questions about the fate of the overall aviation industry, as well as Malindo’s drastic retrenchment move.

Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman wrote on his Twitter account that the government should seriously look into the massive lay-off that happened to the aviation industry in the upcoming Budget 2021.

“Malindo Air downsized from 10,000 staff to only 1,000 people. Affecting 9,000 people. That’s 9,000 family!” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa had expressed his sympathy to the affected staff.

“Our hearts feel really heavy hearing this news. The attack of Covid-19 left a serious impact on the world economy.

“Let us unite to restore the economy so that those involved can return to work. I hope I have the opportunity to help,” he tweeted.

Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak also expressed his concerns on his Facebook account, saying the affected employees should be assisted and placed in new jobs.

He suggested for the government to speed up the allowance from the Employment Insurance Scheme which he launched in 2017.

Additionally, the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia condemned the move, stating that Malindo had received RM3 million by the Social Security Organisation under the Employee Retention Programme.

On Oct 12, it was reported that Malindo had decided to cut more than half of its workforce as part of measures to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 on their business.

With that, the hybrid full-service airline is said to have laid off about 2,200 employees or more than half of its 3,200 workforce.

They were also given a three-month salary severance package during this retrenchment.

The retrenchment process is expected to be completed on Nov 30, while those still on Malindo’s payroll will have to multitask.

It was also reported that the airline had reduced its fleet size to five Boeing 737 jets and six ATR turboprops.

On Oct 9, low-cost airlines AirAsia Bhd and AirAsia X Bhd confirmed laying off 10% of their 24,000 employees as it has been severely affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

Its group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said the move had to be undertaken, given the reality that the aviation sector is facing difficulties and is not likely to be able to recover anytime soon.

On the same day, Malaysia Airlines Bhd group CEO Captain Izham Ismail also reportedly said the premium airline would cut its senior management salary by 10% starting this month.