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Struggling Singapore Airlines offers crew unpaid leave

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is asking its cabin crew to take no-pay leave to address a temporary manpower surplus.

[SINGAPORE] Singapore Airlines said Friday it is offering cabin crew unpaid leave in a cost-cutting measure as it struggles to keep up in an increasingly tough market.

The city-state’s flag carrier has been battling strong competition from Asian low-cost carriers and Middle Eastern airlines, which now boast modern fleets and top-quality inflight services. The airline, which posted a net loss in the fourth quarter of the last financial year, has launched a wide-ranging review and refused to rule out job cuts.  

The company said it had offered its cabin crew the option of taking unpaid leave between September and November this year due to a “temporary surplus of crew”.

“Having temporary surpluses or deficits of cabin crew is not unusual due to the nature of our business, and this voluntary scheme over a specific period of time is to ensure that we efficiently manage crew resources and operational requirements,” a spokesman said.

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The spokesman added the airline now plans to offer the option from time to time in the future. Singapore Airlines did not say how many of its 8,200 crew members had so far taken up the offer or how many staff they hoped would choose to partake in the scheme.

It last resorted to the measure in 2009, after the global financial crisis.  

Aviation analyst Shukor Yusof of Endau Analytics told AFP it showed “legacy carriers” were finding it harder to survive.  

“(Singapore Airlines’s) business travel segment has been hit hard and more are turning to low cost carriers,” he said.