Interests of Singapore, SIA closely intertwined

I am encouraged to read that Singapore Airlines has upped its stakes to rival key competitors in the long-haul premium market by purchasing a new fleet of Airbus 350 planes, which will boost its operational efficiency to reach out to long-distance customers ("SIA heralds new airbus plane as 'game changer'" and "A-350 key to SIA's bid to keep flying high"; both published on March 4).

Hopefully, this will put a halt to its slide in the long-haul market, which has been dominated by key rivals, namely the Big Three Middle Eastern carriers Emirates, Qatar and Etihad, and regional peers such as Cathay Pacific.

Given the intense global competition, SIA could shrink into a less significant regional carrier, for its growth in recent years has been driven mainly by its regional and budget arms.

Imagine the prospect of SIA being reduced to a regional airline like Malaysia Airlines. Such a scenario ought to be a cause for concern for all Singaporeans.

Those who remember how the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew stepped in to resolve a wage dispute between pilots and the airline more than 10 years ago need no reminder of how closely the interests of Singapore are intertwined with SIA's.

For those who are too young to remember that saga, the recent loss of our national shipping carrier, Neptune Orient Lines, to foreign hands should serve as a solemn reminder of how things can go very wrong ("French carrier offers $3.38b to buy out NOL"; Dec 8, 2015).

William Tan Whee Kiem