Singapore Airlines (SIA) is ramping up cabin crew recruitment to support growth plans after emerging from a business slowdown.
Instead of hiring mainly to replace those who leave - which has been the case in the last two to three years at least - the airline is now looking to increase total headcount, The Straits Times found out.
SIA typically hires about 800 to 1,000 cabin crew members a year.
The number this year will likely hit or exceed the high end of that range.
Separately, the airline has reached an agreement with the union representing cabin crew to extend flying years, based on merit.
The maximum extension is three years for all ranks of cabin crew.
Cabin crew are hired on five-year contracts and, based on their rank, may opt for a set number of extensions. The company decides whether or not to grant the renewals.
Previously, junior stewardesses in blue kebayas, for example, could do a maximum of four five-year terms or 20 years in all.
SIA spokesman Nicholas Ionides said cabin crew recruitment is based on operational requirements, including growth as well as to replace those who leave.
This year, the airline will expand its reach with services to new destinations including Dusseldorf in Germany and Canberra in Australia.
It is SIA's most significant expansion in about five years, and it comes as it welcomes the first of its 67 Airbus 350s on order this week.
The purchase includes five ultra-long-range planes which will be used to resume non-stop flights to the United States in 2018. Services to Los Angeles and New York were axed in 2013 due to high fuel prices and weak demand.
In the last few years, much of the growth within the SIA group has been driven by regional carrier SilkAir and long-haul budget arm Scoot.
Between October and December last year, SIA's total capacity - the number of seats offered multiplied by the distance flown - fell 1.2 per cent compared with the same three months the year before. By contrast, SilkAir's capacity grew by 9.5 per cent and Scoot's by 34 per cent.
On contract extensions for cabin crew, Mr Ionides said: "These extensions are not automatic, and performance and conduct of the crew member will be considered in each case. The extensions allow further opportunities for deserving crew to continue serving the airline and our customers."
Mr Alan Tan, president of the Singapore Airlines Staff Union, said the ramp-up in crew hiring is a positive development. "The extension of flying years is also good news for cabin crew and a move in the right direction," he said. "This is in line with the national drive to keep people in the workforce longer."