Airbus lays off some workers here as part of global job cuts

Airbus had unveiled plans to cut about 15,000 jobs worldwide, saying its future was at stake. PHOTO: AFP

Aircraft maker Airbus has retrenched some of its workers in Singapore, as Covid-19 travel restrictions in the region have forced planes to be grounded and dented demand for aviation support services.

The company told The Straits Times yesterday: "After a thorough review of our operations, we have had no option but to take difficult adaptive measures, primarily affecting positions within our customer services operation and related support functions here."

The European airline manufacturer declined to reveal how many workers were retrenched.

Airbus said it is managing the process "with respect and care for the affected employees and providing them with all possible assistance". This includes working with the National Trades Union Congress' Employment and Employability Institute and the Association of Aerospace Industries (Singapore), or AAIS, to help find new job opportunities for those affected.

The aviation industry has been severely disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with global air travel crippled by border closures and airlines scrapping plane orders. Aerospace firms, including component manufacturers and maintenance facilities, are slashing costs and cutting manpower due to declining business.

Earlier this week, aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul firm Eagle Services Asia decided to let go of over 140 workers despite implementing other cost-containment measures earlier, such as a temporary salary reduction and short work week, cancelled merit increases, hiring freezes and discretionary spending cuts. The firm had 829 workers before the retrenchment.

It was also reported this month that jet engine maker Rolls-Royce would be shedding some 240 jobs in Singapore, or nearly a quarter of its local workforce, as part of a global restructuring. It manufactures fan blades and assembles engines at Seletar Aerospace Park.

Meanwhile, budget carrier Jetstar Asia has let go of 167 staff, a reduced number from the earlier estimate of 180, due to new job placements and some resignations.

Mr Sia Kheng Yok, chief executive of AAIS, said aircraft manufacturers and some major aerospace firms had announced global job cuts ranging from 10 per cent to 25 per cent, or between 9,000 and 16,000 jobs. In Singapore, government support has blunted the local impact of these global job cuts, he told The Straits Times.

Last month, Airbus unveiled plans to cut about 15,000 jobs worldwide, saying its future was at stake. As of the end of the first quarter, it had some 830 staff in Singapore in entities spanning the commercial aircraft, helicopter, defence and space businesses. It said: "Despite the very challenging situation for our industry, we remain committed to our presence in Singapore as our regional hub."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2020, with the headline Airbus lays off some workers here as part of global job cuts. Subscribe