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Economy
13 Sep 2020

Singapore Airlines to axe 4,300 jobs, Finnair to send over 1,900 in indefinite furlough

Mateusz Maszczynski
Mateusz Maszczynski
Singapore Airlines' crew.Photo: Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines’ crew.Photo: Singapore Airlines

Finnair to keep 100 cabin crew only

Singapore Airlines is to cut around 4,300 jobs of its entire global workforce in response to continuing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an internal memo, Singapore Airlines chief executive Choon Phong said the carrier was in a “vulnerable position” compared to many other airlines because international flights, which its business relies upon, is expected to recover the slowest.

“The future remains extremely challenging,” Phong warned. “The pandemic is still not under control with some countries experiencing second and third waves. We still do not have a vaccine and tight border restrictions remain in place as governments try to limit imported cases. Global economic growth remains anaemic, with little impetus for the return of international leisure and business travel.”

“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,” the memo continued.

As a result, Singapore Airlines now estimates that 2,400 employees will be made involuntarily redundant. The job cuts will be made across the Singapore Airlines Group (known locally as SIA), including its regional arm Silk Air and low-cost subsidiary Scoot.

In the first quarter of the year, passenger traffic across the SIA group plummeted by 99.5 per cent. At present, traffic has grown to just 8 per cent of pre-COVID levels and by the end of March 2021, the current plan is that traffic levels will be just half of what was originally planned.

Phong reiterated that SIA had raised Singapore $11 billion to secure the future of the airline while cautioning that it was still not clear which carriers would ultimately survive the prolonged crisis.

SIA believes a significant recovery might not come until 2024, especially because of its reliance on international flights.

Finnair

Finnair has taken the drastic decision to slash its cabin crew workforce, retaining a core group of just 100 cabin crew while indefinitely furloughing a further 1,900 without pay.

The airline said it would slash its October flying schedule by more than half because travel demand wasn’t recovering as fast as had been hoped.

The cabin crew union said there were questions over how Finnair had decided who would keep on working.

Along with a core group of 100 cabin crew, Finnair also intends to select 200 crew who will be offered work every other month.

Finnair has ruled out making cabin crew permanently redundant for the time being but employees have no idea when they might be recalled for work.

In June, the Finnish Cabin Crew Association accused the airline of using cheaper foreign cabin crew based in Singapore, Hong Kong and Delhi to operate flights.

Meanwhile, Helsinki-based crew have been “driven into poverty” as Finnish taxpayers pick up the bill to pay roughly 50 per cent of their usual salaries.

While a survey conducted by the airline revealed that 90 per cent of Finnair customers were eager to travel, tough entry restrictions imposed by the Finnish government make that all but impossible. In October, Finnair plans to operate just 70 to 80 flights per day.

The airline had been hoping to operate around 200 daily flights but Finnair’s chief commercial officer, Ole Orvér blamed travel restrictions as having a “direct impact on demand”.

Photo Credit: Singapore Airlines Photo Credit: Finnair

(With credit to Mateusz Maszczynski who is a serving international flight attendant with experience…)

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