Aviation workers worry about making a living as airlines ground fleets
Some scramble to find part-time work as airlines ground fleets over coronavirus
He used to have some 13 to 15 flights a month. Now, the pilot from a local airline has none.
Like his colleagues who are hit hard by the fallout from the Covid-19 crisis, the pilot, who declined to be identified, has been told to make use of his annual leave from the next financial year, or at least portions of it, while he is not flying.
Without flights, he and his colleagues will draw just a basic salary without flying allowance, which makes up a considerable part of their income.
He told The New Paper: "We do feel the strain, and there is the unsaid fear of pay cuts and layoffs. It looks like it might be coming, but the company has been reassuring, and have kept us informed of updates."
More countries are tightening border controls, causing the commercial aviation industry to come to a halt.
On Monday, Singapore Airlines announced it would ground 138 out of 147 SIA and SilkAir aircraft, among other measures.
International Air Transport Association spokesman Albert Tjoeng told TNP: "The travel restrictions that have been implemented across the world have caused air travel demand to completely collapse. Airlines are under extreme financial and operational pressures. It is an existential threat."
Mr Sia Kheng Yok, chief executive of the Association of Aerospace Industries Singapore, said: "Airlines do not operate in isolation, but sit atop a massive ecosystem... We are concerned for the aviation sector and the aerospace sector that maintains SIA's fleet."
He also stressed that the need to ground a majority of fleets globally is inevitable.
Australia's Qantas will ground all international flights and stand down most of its 30,000 employees until at least the end of May.
Ground staff, pilots and cabin crew at major airline companies here told TNP they are worried.
A worker from a local airline said: "We are in uncharted waters. No one in the industry has ever envisaged such a total shutdown. And we do not know what will happen and how long this will last."
He said the airline he is working for is trying to protect jobs, but may eventually have no choice but to lay off staff.
A cabin crew member with an international airline told TNP she has been told to stand down, along with about 100 colleagues based here, meaning a complete suspension of all income.
She said: "Many of my colleagues are scrambling to find part-time jobs now."
Another flight attendant said the crew at her airline have been asked to take no-pay leave, and as they are not supposed to be sourcing for outside income, her family will be watching their finances more carefully.
Her household is hit doubly hard because her husband is also in the aviation industry.
She said that while they are spending more time with family, it would be a financial struggle if the situation dragged on.
She said: "In March alone, my pay went down by a third. While this is not affecting our daily lives too much yet, we can't wait to get back to work."