SINGAPORE - Their flights may have been grounded but some 800 cabin crew from Singapore Airlines (SIA) are currently applying their professional skills to alternative roles, helping Singapore's fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
SIA announced on April 25 that it would extend its flight cancellations to the end of June amid travel restrictions around the globe. At present, SIA has passenger flights to just 15 destinations, compared with more than 130 normally.
"Being a cabin crew has taught me to be proactive and sensitive while providing care for people," said leading steward Mohamad Faidhi Mohamad Ruzli on Saturday (May 2). The 32-year-old has been deployed as a care ambassador at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital since April 21.
"While the transition (to my new role) is smooth, I always remind myself that extra care and concern must be considered while handling these patients who are unwell."
In his current role, Mr Faidhi, who has been with the airline for about 12 ½ years, assists with administrative support and attends to patients who require medical care in a non-clinical role. He helps nurses with tasks such as repositioning patients in bed, taking their vital signs and noting meal orders and serving them correctly.
While the emergency trolley in the ward resembles the bar consumption cart on a flight, almost every item on it was foreign to Mr Faidhi and it took some time for him to become familiar with the apparatus and the medical equipment it contains.
Mr Faidhi shared that on just his second day on the job, he was part of the team handling a recently deceased patient.
"I was taken through the processes carried out on the body before it was handed over to the family. It was an eye-opening and emotional experience."
Flight attendant Sarah Liew, 23, who has been with the airlines for almost two years, has been working as a transport ambassador for about a month.
"I advise the general public to adhere to the safe distancing measures and I help in crowd control. In this role, not only do I ensure the safety of the commuters, I also help to advise the fastest and most comfortable route to get to their destination," she said.
Miss Liew said that while she misses interacting with people from all over the world when flying, her current role lets her give back to the local community and still meet and work with people.
In her role as transport ambassador, Miss Liew has observed that members of public are gradually getting used to safe distancing measures and are more consciously adhering to them.
For inflight manager Irvin Ignatius Selvam, 48, deployment as a contact tracing ambassador lets him exercise the empathy and politeness which he has cultivated in his 25 years with SIA.
After just one week in this role, Mr Selvam said that his training and his relevant skill set have allowed him to hit the ground running.
"In fact, this role is tailor-made for us cabin crew. In the air, we speak to our passengers face-to-face with politeness, professionalism and empathy. This is now translated to speaking over the phone. It is our caring nature that makes this role our forte and we are grateful to have gained such a useful skill set through our training with SIA."
Mr Selvam said that he had been looking out for avenues where he could assist and contribute his time to help out in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. He was thankful when this role came up, which was in line with what he was looking for.
The cabin crew also shared that they have to maintain a certain level of grooming and presentation, even though they are not flying.
Mr Faidhi said that as they are representing SIA, it is ingrained in them to "maintain impeccable grooming and professionalism at all times".
Miss Liew noted however that "we are not required to do the signature hairstyle and makeup that we do for a flight".
The SIA Group has committed to provide at least 300 care ambassadors, 500 transport ambassadors and 150 contact tracing ambassadors, and continues to work with other organisations to explore other avenues where its employees can help, said an SIA spokesman.
Senior Vice-President of Human Resources Vanessa Ng said: "We are very proud of our cabin crew, who have stepped forward to support Singapore's front-liners on several fronts. The spirit of giving back to the community runs high in the SIA culture, as shown in the many ways in which our people have risen to the occasion during this challenging time. We are in this together with the rest of Singapore as we battle to overcome Covid-19."