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SIA, Scoot flight crew not required to wear masks from June 1; some staff raise concerns

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Pilots and cabin crew on Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Scoot flights will no longer be required to wear masks from June 1, but some flight attendants are concerned that this is mandatory.

An internal memo sent out by the two airlines stated that in order for the SIA Group to maintain a “unified and consistent approach”, flight attendants “should not wear masks” while in uniform.

However, if a flight is heading to, or departing from a destination where masks are mandatory, flight attendants must wear masks in accordance with local government regulations.

Screenshots of the memo were sent to Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao on Thursday.

A Scoot crew member, who did not want to be named, told the newspaper in an e-mail interview that a colleague had asked the company about the memo and came to the conclusion that from June, it is “mandatory” for SIA and Scoot crew members to remove their masks when in uniform.

The crew member added that when another colleague asked the company whether cabin crew are allowed to wear masks when cleaning the toilets, its answer was “one should not wear mask when in uniform”.

An SIA crew member, who also did not want to be named, said he is not worried and has no objection to the new rule. But he added that some of his colleagues have expressed concern and hope they can wear a mask if they choose to.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, SIA Group confirmed that “in tandem with the Singapore Government’s move towards the endemic new norm, it will be stepping down the mask-wearing requirement for its flight crew with effect from June 1”.

All SIA and Scoot pilots and cabin crew will not be required to wear a mask while operating flights, except on routes where the destination still requires it.

“This helps our flight crew adopt a consistent and unified approach while operating flights,” said a spokesman.

“Our crew will continue to adhere to the robust health and safety measures implemented on board to safeguard the well-being of our customers and staff.”

The spokesman added: “If a crew wishes to wear a mask while operating routes to destinations where mask-wearing is not mandated, they are still able to continue with their duties.”

“However, we will seek to better understand the crew’s concerns and work with them to see how we can help better safeguard their welfare during flights.”

Speaking to ST, Singapore Airlines Staff Union president Alan Tan said: “We have raised the crew’s concerns about not wearing masks, and the assurance was given to me that the company will not force the crew or intimidate them to comply.”

Some staff members have raised concerns as they have older folk at home, who are more susceptible to falling ill.

“As this is a transition period, the company hears their concerns and will see how best they can maintain this moving forward,” added Mr Tan.

An SIA flight attendant, who has been working with the company for 17 years, welcomes the move to remove masks.

“Other airlines are doing it already... it’s a sign that things are better,” said the cabin crew member who did not want to be named. He had worked through the pandemic, donning personal protective equipment throughout flights.

“Without masks, we can now go back to showing off our trademark smiles again,” he added.

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