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SIA to hire 2,000 cabin crew by March 2023; about 800 recruited so far

THE STRAITS TIMES/ANN – Singapore Airlines (SIA) is looking to recruit about 2,000 cabin crew as air travel continues to pick up pace.

More than 800 cabin crew members have already been hired since hiring started in March. About three in five of these were former crew members who had left the job.

The remaining new crew members are set to be hired by the end of the company’s current financial year next March, SIA said.

SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong told The Sunday Times last week: “We have been proactive, we anticipated that things are opening up and that we want to be ahead of the curve.”

As many of the new cabin crew members had formerly worked at SIA Group, this reduces the amount of time needed to train them, he added.

SIA did not elaborate on the number of flight crew it currently employs, citing commercial sensitivities. The group, which also includes budget carrier Scoot, had in September 2020 cut around 4,300 positions across its airlines.

After taking into account a recruitment freeze, natural attrition and the take-up of voluntary departure schemes, the number of staff who had to leave was fewer than 2,000.

More than 800 Singapore Airlines cabin crew members have already been hired since hiring started in March. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES/ANN

Prior to the retrenchment exercise, the SIA Group had about 3,200 pilots and almost 11,000 cabin crew. Goh said the number of pilots at SIA Group is still similar to pre-Covid-19 numbers, with just “a very small number” who have left.

Almost all of SIA’s existing pilots, cabin crew and aircraft are now flying regularly again.

But the airline said it is unable to disclose the exact number, citing commercial sensitivity.

Goh said that none of the flight crew or planes is fully utilised yet, given that air travel is still recovering from the pandemic.

“But we are deploying them so that they can all be operationally ready, and whenever we want to introduce increased frequencies or new points, we can easily step it up because the resources are already there and trained,” he said.

Goh also said SIA does not need its crew levels to be restored fully to what it was before the pandemic yet.

This is because its passenger capacity is expected to hit 61 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels in this quarter and 67 per cent during the following three months.

“There are some markets that may be closed for a while,” Goh said.

“China is one possible one, we don’t know when it will be open, so we don’t need to be back at 100 per cent just yet.”

Although there is currently enough flight crew to handle upcoming flights, he conceded that SIA’s customer service centre had struggled with the spike in inquiries.