SINGAPORE: National carrier Singapore Airlines (SIA) has implemented a hiring freeze on ground positions and taken other measures to cut costs, in light of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the aviation industry.
In a response to a CNA query on Tuesday (Feb 25), an SIA spokesperson confirmed that a hiring freeze has taken effect.
"SIA has implemented a general recruitment freeze for all ground positions in response to COVID-19," said the spokesperson.
"We are closely monitoring the evolving situation and will be decisive in implementing any additional measures that may be needed. However, we will not do anything that compromises the SIA Group’s long-term competitiveness."
It added that SIA’s transformation programme has strengthened its revenue generating capabilities and driven operational efficiencies over the last three years.
"This means we are able to tackle COVID-19 from a position of strength," the spokesperson said.
In an email to SIA staff on Tuesday, SIA chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong said that in addition to the general recruitment freeze for all ground positions, non-essential duty travel has been suspended.
"We are closely monitoring the evolving situation and will be decisive in implementing any additional measures that may be needed," Mr Goh said.
To date, the SIA Group has temporarily suspended more than 3,000 flights from February to end-May, accounting for 9.9 per cent of scheduled capacity, he said.
"We will continue to be nimble and flexible in adjusting our capacity to match the changing patterns in the market."
He added that "preventive measures" to conserve cash and reduce costs have been taken, with selected capital expenditure being deferred and a tightening of discretionary operating expenditure.
SIA has also reached out to suppliers and partners to discuss additional mitigating measures.
According to Mr Goh, SIA's commercial teams are working to "aggressively drive sales" and promote air travel to and through Singapore for revenue.
"I would like to thank everyone for continuing to work very hard to maintain our usual high standards, and ensure the safety of all customers and staff, despite the tough challenges," concluded Mr Goh.
"Yes, these are difficult times. But I am confident that together, we can overcome them and emerge as an even stronger SIA."
On Monday, SIA said in a post on its Facebook page that it would be reducing services across both SIA and SilkAir networks in response to "weak demand" during the COVID-19 outbreak.
There will be a 7.1 per cent decrease in seat capacity from February to end-May 2020, and affected customers will be notified and placed on other flights, said SIA.