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Compulsory no-pay leave for SIA pilots starts April amid coronavirus hit

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Singapore Airlines' (SIA) pilots will be placed on compulsory no-pay leave (CNPL) of between four and seven days a month starting Apr 1 as the airline and its unions work together to save jobs in what has been described as an unprecedented crisis for global aviation.

SINGAPORE Airlines' (SIA) pilots will be placed on compulsory no-pay leave (CNPL) of between four and seven days a month starting April 1 as the airline and its unions work together to save jobs in what has been described as an unprecedented crisis for global aviation. 

From April 1, Captains will take seven days of CNPL per month, while First Officers and Second Officers will take five days and four days a month respectively.

"These measures together with no flying being done will result in an average of up to 55 per cent salary cuts for Captains, up to 50 per cent cuts for First Officers and up to 15 per cent cuts for Second Officers," said Captain Kenneth Lai, president of the Air Line Pilots Association - Singapore (Alpa-S). These figures represent a percentage of pilots' total monthly salary package, which includes both a basic salary and a variable component.

Pilots over the age of 62 and on re-employment contracts will be placed on a six-month-long furlough, "pending the development of the Covid-19 situation over the next few months".

This comes after Singapore's flag carrier said on Monday that it would be forced to make sweeping capacity cuts of 96 per cent until end-April. This will see it ground 138 SIA and SilkAir planes from their combined fleets of 147 aircraft. Meanwhile, its low-cost unit Scoot is suspending the vast majority of its network and grounding 47 of its 49 aircraft.

At nearly 2,400 active members, Alpa-S represents about 95 per cent of the pilot population for SIA, SilkAir and SIA Cargo.

To cushion the financial fallout from Covid-19 and save the airline group, other cost-cutting measures put in place by SIA include voluntary no-pay leave for all staff up to divisional vice-presidents. It is also working on deferring upcoming aircraft deliveries in order to defer payments and conserve cash.

Its senior management, led by chief executive Goh Choon Phong, will be taking steeper salary cuts. He will now take a bigger salary cut of 30 per cent from Apr 1, while executive vice-presidents and senior vice-presidents will take cuts of 25 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

The flag carrier has also said that it is actively taking steps to shore up its liquidity and is in talks with several financial institutions for funding. 

SIA is not the only airline forced to make hard decisions in what industry players describe as an unprecedented crisis for the global aviation industry. With countries worldwide tightening their borders to fend off the pandemic, airlines worldwide have become collateral damage, slashing their network and grounding planes, prompting some carriers to warn of layoffs and furloughs.

Businesses across most sectors in the Republic are also feeling the pain, and the Singapore government is poised to announce additional support measures this Thursday to help workers, businesses and households deal with the devastating fallout from Covid-19.