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About 4,000 people joined aviation sector in first half of 2022, manpower still below pre-COVID levels: Iswaran

About 4,000 people joined aviation sector in first half of 2022, manpower still below pre-COVID levels: Iswaran

Travellers walk through a transit hall at Changi Airport in Singapore on May 13, 2022. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: The manpower of Singapore’s aviation sector is still well below pre-COVID levels, despite 4,000 new recruits joining in the first half of 2022, said Transport Minister S Iswaran on Sunday (Aug 7).

Speaking on the sidelines of the Nanyang 57th National Day Carnival 2022, Mr Iswaran said the aviation sector employed about 35,000 people before the COVID-19 pandemic, but that number fell to 25,000 at the end of last year.

“There was about a one-third attrition, which is a significant loss of capability when we are trying to ramp up fast.

"The significance of this is clear when you look at what is happening around the world. Many airports have ramped up quickly, but then subsequently had to make adjustments and even scale back, because of the challenge of manning levels,” said Mr Iswaran, referring to the travel chaos at major airports worldwide as they struggled to meet the demands of rebounding air travel.

“We now need to sustain that and increase the manning levels going into the year-end, because we anticipate another significant increase in the year-end period.

"We need to plan for that and make manning and operational adjustments - that is what everybody is working on right now,” said the minister.

In terms of air traffic volume, Singapore was at about 56 per cent of pre-COVID levels in the month of July.

With 4,000 new recruits, the aviation sector now employs about 29,000 people, but many of these recruits may be relatively new to the sector, said Mr Iswaran.

“The key thing is, it is not just about bringing in the numbers … They need to enhance their knowledge of the sector and operations and level-up the skills needed to come up to speed, because it is critical for both operational efficiency, and also for safety,” he said.

“Even as our aviation partners are recruiting people for the sector, they are also investing heavily in the effort to train and bring them up to speed so that they can seamlessly fit into the operations. This is an important part of the work going forward and I would say for Singaporeans, there are good career opportunities in aviation.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore’s airport used to serve about 70 million passengers annually.

Mr Iswaran said Singapore is aiming to reach 100 per cent of pre-COVID passenger flow by the end of 2022 and that the country is making sure that Changi Airport can get back to processing and serving passenger flows at that level.

However, he noted that reaching that target would depend on external factors outside of Singapore’s control, such as how quickly key markets in north-east Asia like China, Japan and South Korea are able to fully reopen their borders.

“We have to keep very close tabs on that. But our preparation continues, because we need to make sure that we are ready for further improvement in the aviation sector,” said Mr Iswaran.

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Source: CNA/ec(ta)


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