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Singapore Airlines Cabin Crew required to take unpaid leave

Travel News Asia 30 April 2003

Singapore Airlines (SIA) announced today that its 6,600-plus cabin crew members have been asked to take seven days' unpaid leave every two months for the rest of the financial year, which ends 31 March 2004. This move is the latest cost management measure taken by the Airline in response to the impact of SARS on operations.

Cabin crew were informed of the decision today, after SIA management had consulted with their union leadership over the weekend.

Said Senior Vice-President (Cabin Crew) Sim Kay Wee, "The decision was reached jointly with the union leaders, who must be praised for their understanding and cooperation. There is no disguising the surplus in crew  numbers following a substantial reduction in the flight schedules, but it is heartening that we were able to discuss this problem together and reach an agreement on this latest measure."

Mr Sim added that the number of days' unpaid leave would be kept under review and may have to be increased in line with further capacity cuts. However, he said any changes to the Scheme would be made only after further discussion with union leaders.

The compulsory unpaid leave scheme takes effect from the start of May 2003 and the leave dates of individual crew members will be determined by a roster.

The decision to introduce the compulsory unpaid leave scheme follows capacity cuts to match the much-reduced demand for air travel caused by the spread of SARS, the recent conflict in Iraq, and the slowing global economy. The airline said that discussions about a similar scheme for pilots will be held with the Air Line Pilots Association - Singapore.

Earlier this month, many cabin crew voluntarily applied for unpaid leave of between two weeks and five months on a voluntary basis. Although these applications were readily approved, this step alone did not reduce surplus crew numbers significantly.

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