Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Singapore Airlines, unions, discuss effects of planned capacity reduction

Singapore AirlinesThe management of Singapore Airlines has been meeting with union leaders to discuss how to mitigate the potential impact of the airline's announced capacity reduction on staff. Singapore Airlines plans to reduce its capacity by 11 per cent between April of this year and March of 2010.

The current capacity reduction plan will entail the decommissioning of 17 aircraft. Earlier, Singapore Airlines had announced plans to remove only four aircraft from their fleet.

According to the airline, talks between management and Singapore Airlines' three staff unions includes discussions of accelerated clearance of leave entitlements, voluntary leave without pay, voluntary early retirement and shorter work months.

Noting that Singapore Airlines "does not have a domestic operation to soften the blow from the slump in international air traffic," CEO Chew Choon Seng said 2009 is going to be a very difficult year for the airline.

"We have already taken action such as expanding and stepping up training and re-training programmes, and we will contemplate retrenchment only as a last resort, but we do not have the luxury of time and we need to agree and act on some measures quickly so that we can push back the point of retrenchment as far as possible and improve our chances of avoiding it altogether," Mr. Chew said.

"The Company will work with the staff and the unions in forging a consensus on the action plans. Together in cooperation, we will rise to the challenges confronting us and ride out the storm," Mr. Chew said, pledging that should cuts in salary become necessary, management would be the first to take them.