SIA pushes unpaid leave to cut costs

A Tiger Airways plane passes a Singapore Airlines jet sitting on the tarmac at Changi Airport in Singapore. (Reuters Photo)

SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines (SIA) is offering three months of voluntary unpaid leave to cabin crew as it seeks to cut costs amid rising competition in the region.

The carrier is asking some of its flight attendants to take leave from September, it said in an emailed response to questions. The airline had 8,356 cabin crew as of the end of March, according to its annual report.

“Having temporary surpluses or deficits of cabin crew is not unusual due to the nature of our business,” an SIA spokesman said. “This voluntary scheme over a specific period of time is to ensure that we efficiently manage crew resources and operational requirements. The intention is to offer it from time to time going forward.”

Singapore Air is in the midst of a review of its business amid intensifying competition from Middle East airlines and budget carriers, with CEO Goh Choon Phong saying in June that it may include job cuts. The carrier returned to profit in the second quarter after posting its first loss since 2014 in the first three months of the year.

The Singaporean carrier isn’t the only airline that is trying to reduce staff costs. Emirates is letting go of dozens of employees, including senior cabin crew and support department workers, as the Gulf carrier continues a push to streamline after years of rapid growth, people with knowledge of the matter said last month.

Cathay Pacific Airways said in May that it would eliminate 600 jobs in Hong Kong as part of the biggest business revamp in two decades as it slipped into a loss for the first time in eight years.

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