Come October, the snake of 2013 will swallow up the long haul SQ non-stop flights to New York and Los Angeles and put an end to its operation. All the 5 A345 aircraft which are currently being used will be a "trade-in" for the new 20 A350 aircraft which SIA has ordered from Airbus.
The prime reason for the intended cessation of the non stop flight is financial. SIA has been losing money on this operation since its inception in 2004. SIA has never disclosed how much it has lost but according to experts the sum is huge.
As for the pilots the result will be painful. At first the co-pilots were asked to go on no pay leave and just two months ago, the captains were asked to do the same.
Last month, SIA announced that 76 of its expat pilots would be asked to leave.
Currently, SIA has a total of 2,300 pilots, of which 75% are Singaporeans.
This cost cutting measure is the result of slow growth and a surplus of pilots. The cessation of the A345 flights will give the pilots a greater headache.
Will the flight attendants suffer the same fate as the pilots? The answer is no!
There is always a shortage of flight attendants. The reason is the attrition rate is high, roughly 1% (75) of the total force of 7,500 FAs leave SIA every month.
In fact, SIA finds it very difficult to get the right people for the job. SIA conducts FAs recruitment almost every month in Singapore,not to mention the occasional interviews overseas.
This afternoon I had lunch with an ex crew who still has good connection with the flying crew. He told me the no pay leave scheme did not receive good response from the pilots and it will be a matter of time some of them will be retrenched.
He also told me a few pilots have left SIA and flying for some other airlines.
The cessation of the long haul non stop flights this coming October will make matter worse for the pilots.
We will just have to keep our fingers crossed and hope that business will get better for the airline industry as a whole and SIA in particular so that nobody will have to be retrenched.