Singapore Airlines Group to lay off thousands of workers due to COVID-19

Aviation Updates Philippines – Singapore Airlines Group (SIA) has announced that it will be eliminating around 4,300 jobs across its three airlines, becoming the latest global carrier to announce massive layoffs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an announcement made on Thursday (September 10), SIA said that after taking into consideration hiring freezes, natural attrition, and voluntary departures, around 2,400 staff in its bases in Singapore and overseas will be laid off, with the majority being foreigners.

Airlines in the SIA Group include Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, and Scoot.

"Having to let go of our valuable and dedicated people is the hardest and most agonising decision that I have had to make in my 30 years with SIA. 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," Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said in a statement.

"The next few weeks will be some of the toughest in the history of the SIA Group as some of our friends and colleagues leave the company. We will conduct the 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," he added.

Following the announcement, Singapore's Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said that the government will be working with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and industry partners to help those affected transition to new jobs or enroll them in industry attachment and traineeship programs.

Cham Hui Fong, NTUC deputy secretary-general, said that the union will continue to work closely with SIA to train its remaining workforce and help those whose incomes have been affected.

Like many airlines, SIA has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the crisis began, the SIA Group cut most of its flights and sent a number of its planes to Alice Springs, Australia for long-term storage.

The SIA Group said that compared to most major airlines, "the SIA Group is in an even more vulnerable position as it does not have a domestic market that will be the first to see a recovery."

The Group also said that to remain viable, it will operate a smaller fleet with a reduced network in the coming years. It added by saying that industry groups have said that passenger traffic will not return to pre-COVID levels until 2024.

Photo by Alan Wilson