Singapore Airlines this week grounded 90 percent of its fleet, cut the pay of its management staff for the second time, and is requiring its pilots to take unpaid leave every month beginning April. Captains will have to take seven days of unpaid leave, first officers five days, and second officers four days, while executive and associate staff will have to take one day in April and two days in May.
According to the pilots’ union, the Airline Pilots’ Association - Singapore, the unpaid leave requirement represents a significant pay cut for the pilots: 55 percent cuts for captains, 50 percent cuts for first officers, and 15 percent cuts for second officers. The union had agreed to the requirements nonetheless, a sign of how trying the situation is given that ALPA-S has clashed several times with SIA over pay and rest days—the most recent disagreement being in 2018, when union and company spent most of the year wrangling over what ALPA-S claimed was uncompetitive pay and benefits.
Earlier, in February, SIA had announced that its board of directors and all senior management staff were taking pay cuts ranging from five to 15 percent beginning this month. Under the latest measures, CEO Goh Choon Phong and the board of directors will all take a pay cut of 30 percent beginning in April, while other management staff will take cuts from 10 to 25 percent.
Industry observers have said that Singapore’s aviation industry is exceptionally vulnerable to the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic because Singapore is an aviation hub for the region and relies entirely on the international market. Furthermore, the city-state is too small to provide SIA with a domestic market that it can fall back on.