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Aviation sector to receive more state support

THE government will commit an additional S$84 million to the aviation sector to help companies and workers tide through the winter brought on by the pandemic.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), in a media statement released on Tuesday, announced that S$39 million of the additional funding will go towards helping aviation players to manage increased costs of operations, S$20 million to retraining workers, and S$25 million to investing in productivity to position the sector for recovery.

Specifically, there will be support for the development, adoption and deployment of innovative technologies and measures - including aircraft and baggage sanitisation systems - to protect airport workers and air crew from getting infected with the novel coronavirus.

The government will also continue to provide rebates for fees and charges. The CAAS will waive the fees payable by Singapore-based airlines for their certificates of airworthiness, as well as their licence fees payable for providing scheduled air services. The waiver will apply to fees payable between April 1 and March 31, 2021.

Also, there will be a 50 per cent rebate given for licence fees payable for ground handling and catering services at Changi Airport and Seletar Airport for the same period.

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To ensure that there are enough pilots and their skills are kept current when the aviation sector recovers, the CAAS and SkillsFuture Singapore will offer Singapore-based airlines subsidies to retrain their pilots.

Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Transport Chee Hong Tat, in a year-end video produced by the ministry and posted on Facebook, said that the government is also helping local pilots to convert their licences so that they can fly other types of aircraft in future.

Mr Chee noted there are Singaporean pilots with foreign licences who were retrenched by foreign airlines and had returned to Singapore. He commented: "We reviewed our rules, to enable them to apply for a Singapore pilot licence, so that they can work for a local airline in the future."

Pilots, air traffic controllers and aircraft maintenance engineers who have to pay for their licence fees and medical evaluation fees will also get a full rebate for fees payable between April 1 and March 31, 2021.

Various agencies will collaborate to help those aviation workers who want to transition to other jobs in the sector to improve their employability and acquire the relevant skills. Additional support will be provided for new programmes to be developed for such workers. Details will be announced in January 2021.

To encourage companies to continue with their innovation and productivity efforts, the government will pump S$25 million into the Aviation Development Fund (ADF). This will provide a higher level of funding support of up to 90 per cent to companies until the end of March 2022 for companies' initiatives.

The CAAS noted: "Such productivity efforts will improve the attractiveness of the sector to Singaporeans, support the employability of older workers, and reduce the sector's reliance on foreign workforce in the longer term."

The battered sector earlier had support in the form of Aviation Sector Assistance Package and the Enhanced Aviation Support Package, prior to the latest assistance funding.

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